Whitehorse Daily Star

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PRACTICE CALLED UNACCEPTABLE – The Gender and Sexuality Alliances of Porter Creek and F.H. Collins Secondary Schools gathered at the legislature Tuesday afternoon to support the petition calling for the outlawing of conversion therapy in the Yukon. Inset Mercedes Bacon-Traplin, left, Jeanie Dendys.

Ban conversion therapy, students urge

A petition calling for a ban of conversion therapy was presented to the Yukon legislature Tuesday afternoon.

By Palak Mangat on April 10, 2019

A petition calling for a ban of conversion therapy was presented to the Yukon legislature Tuesday afternoon.

It has drawn more than 400 signatures of support in just a few months, thanks to help from students in Whitehorse schools.

Those schools include F.H. Collins and Porter Creek Secondary Schools, whose Gender and Sexuality Alliances gathered yesterday in the legislature during question period and earlier outside the building.

Mercedes Bacon-Traplin is a student at F.H. and LGBTQ2S+ rights activist. She, along with her peers, watched on as NDP MLA Kate White read the petition out in the legislature.

The petition for the ban “to minors in Yukon and prohibit transporting minors outside of Yukon or Canada for such purposes.”

Speaking to reporters, Bacon-Traplin reflected on her experience and involvement in the movement, which first began with a friend over lunch.

“I was welcomed because my parents are gay themselves; I was totally accepted when I came out,” she said.

“But there are children, people I know myself, who if they were to come out, would not be accepted – and I want to make sure that those people are protected and safe no matter what their home life is like.”

A part of the LGBTQ2S+ community herself, Bacon-Traplin explained that seeing actress Ellen Page (who is gay) take political figures to task for their views on gay marriage and conversion therapy got her thinking of the Yukon context.

“We decided to look it up and we were shocked to find out it (conversion therapy) hadn’t been (banned),” she said.

“So after the initial, oh my God’ kind of thing, we were like, ‘we need to do something about this – this is not OK.’”

That led to speaking with school alliances, media and White, and yesterday saw the petition being presented.

“Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to take someone who is gay or transgender or bisexual and turn them into a cisgender, heterosexual person,” Bacon-Traplin explained.

Methods have varied throughout the years. They have included electroshock therapy, icepick lobotomies, chemical castration and developed into things like psychotherapy – some of which date back to the 1900s.

As for just how big of a role they play, if any, here in the territory, it was hard to tell, she added.

“These things are often quite underground,” Bacon-Traplin said.

While it was possible that there may be zero instances of it happening here, the group hoped to be proactive rather than reactive by presenting the petition.

“We’re here to make sure it never will happen.

“If political views or societal views ever shift, we want to make sure that the laws are already in place to protect the youth.”

While there is uncertainty about how or if at all that was common here, Bacon-Traplin is sure about one thing: “I do know we want to make sure we’re protecting the really vulnerable youth.”

After the petition was tabled, White quizzed Jeanie Dendys, the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate, on the topic.

Dendys rose to say that both her and Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee’s mandate letters from the premier instructed them to “conduct a review of legislation, policies and practices to ensure the Yukon government meets the rules and social standards for LGBTQ non-discrimination.”

Dendys pointed to engagement on LGBTQ2S+ inclusion that wrapped up March 29 and concerns around the ban being “part of the considerations going forward” in a What we Heard document following that engagement.

The Canadian Psychological Association is among the groups that have condemned the use of conversion therapy, and Dendys noted that the government does not support it in any form.

Comments (19)

Up 1 Down 0

Al on Apr 16, 2019 at 2:48 pm

We are already having a great deal of issues with our health care program. We are continually told time and again we lack the financial wherewithal to really be universal (well they really never say it in those direct terms - it is more the soft wording). Some of us (including myself) have to dig deep into our own resources for some services "because it is not covered", or the wait period is so long you'd be dead first. Now I am not talking about fluff stuff but rather quality care and "needed" services. Yet we have, as some good folk have pointed out, free care and services for medical coverage that really should be covered by the individuals own pocket book - hence this being one of them. You want a sex change, go for it; but not on the back of our health care system. You want to be a druggie better find a solution that is not a burden to the Health Care System.

Up 1 Down 0

unreal on Apr 16, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Religions like to get you when you are young and impressionable and hard wire it into your psyche. Now, when you decide at a later age that you've been hoodwinked into a way of life that rules you by fear and guilt, it isn't easy to just walk away into what is known as Judean Christian Guilt Complex. My life has been made worse by trying to escape the indoctrination of those who wanted to rule my life and limit my freedom of thinking. I surely don't need a religion to guide me.

Up 15 Down 3

Juniper Jackson on Apr 16, 2019 at 11:24 am

Medical is a little lopsided these days, bending over.. for political correctness. A junkie can get thousands of dollars worth of Naloxone kits, again, and again, and again..for free.. but the parents of a 4 year old can not get an EPI pen.. I am older than rocks, and my wrinkly old face can not get a 'lift', even though it harms my self image.. I have an awful neck.. but if I wanted a penis, I can have that for free.

Personally, I have NO political interest in what anyone does with their bodies..your body.. should either be your dime, or every one gets body enhancements/improvements. In my mind, I'm 30 or so, why can't I look like it? It disturbs me deeply to look like this.

Up 14 Down 2

Just Sayin' on Apr 15, 2019 at 5:13 pm

OMG. First, not an issue in the Yukon.
Second, children can get emancipated and go to SS and claim abuse.
Third, parents house parents rules; if you do not like it leave.

Up 3 Down 10

Johnson on Apr 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm

How far do you know @Roy? How can we know if kids can't come forward. Banning it would ensure that our children are not being tortured with this practice and give them recourse to report it if/when it does.

Other jurisdictions are all moving to ban it too.
Why are you all so miserable? Here's a group of brave youth who have taken on a project in solidarity with their peers here and elsewhere who might be at risk of this, and all you can do is make jokes?

Up 7 Down 29

Karyn Atlin on Apr 12, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Thank you Mercedes and friends for righting a wrong that previous generations didn’t get around to doing. While there is no proof that it’s a practice that is currently happening, there is also no proof that it isn’t. Good for you for doing your homework and good for Minister Denny’s and McPhee for doing their due diligence.

Up 9 Down 3

Bandit on Apr 12, 2019 at 11:50 am

Leviticus 20:13. It all makes sense to me now. A few years ago (I think it was Oregon and Colorado) on the same day voted to legalize Gay marriage and Marijuana. Leviticus 20:13 states that if a man lay with another man he must be stoned.

Up 13 Down 37

Richard on Apr 11, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Regarding "religeous idiots" comments:

The Christian message is not one of rejection or intolerance, but one of love by truth. A person who truly cares for someone’s spiritual well being is one who is not afraid to tell the truth and to warn against a lifestyle contrary to the laws of God.
Bible Verses About Homosexuality
Genesis 19:1-11, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Judges 19:16-24, 1 Kings 14:24, 1 Kings 15:12, 2 Kings 23:7' Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-10' Jude 7

Up 13 Down 10

Al on Apr 11, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Josey - hm some of your words are akin to listening to the Libs in Ottawa. Getting the seals to clap their hands every time JT screws up. Gads I hear them now - urg, urg, urg...(I know my articulation of a seal is really awful).

Up 15 Down 22

Humble Measure on Apr 11, 2019 at 9:06 am

@Jason the article is a bit misleading with the examples they gave. Some unforgiving churches offer "conversion therapy" in the form of individual counselling, group sessions or brainwashing seminars. It's psychologically very harmful.

Up 49 Down 14

Edie rue on Apr 10, 2019 at 8:44 pm

This looks more like a bunch of kids looking to fight a wrong that barely exists. In other words, a complete waste of social justice. Conversion therapy is ridiculous; that was established a few years ago. I’m sure there’s a few brainwashers out there looking to cash in on a few religious idiots. But this is like saying ban the Darwin chair to cure schizophrenia. Maybe focus your attention on real emerging issues, like eroding awareness of the importance of vaccines.

Up 53 Down 19

Josey Wales on Apr 10, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Dear well indoctrinated kids....
Being not gay these days is just like being gay in the 1920s, rife with ridicule, attacked and fired for traditional values.
Decades of public school indoctrination is the reason we have this alphabet group of folks screaming at every chance, state Sanctioned Liberal ideology, alleged hate speech, hurt feeling police etc.
Seriously...so your gay? Who cares, even this hillbilly doesn’t...the victim card is well worn from being so so overplayed.
More folks die from obesity related issues each day, than TEN years of alleged hate crimes....why not ban obesity?
“If we are a free people, we are not equal. If we are equal....we are not free” JBP

Every hierarchy has power trippers and subordinates, nothing resembles equality....NOTHING!
This is more about “the cause...the SJW Crusade” and promoting alleged progressive Liberal values and power within the hierarchy than anything else. The zealots that spew their nonsense in public school are using kids as silly putty, as they are malleable, often naive and easily transfer whatever facsimile they touch....
Clapping like trained seals awaiting a treat for being so so well trained and virtuous.
Wow...you are gay? Big effin deal.
SJW minions...attack away, kinda expect it.
Cannot see your feet? Have a apple and go for a walk, your heart and health will be grateful.

Up 18 Down 36

Step up government! Ban it now!!!!! on Apr 10, 2019 at 8:01 pm

If your government does not support this horrible therapy, Ms. Dendys, then BAN IT. People (parents/guardians) with religious ideology, homophobic views or otherwise should NOT be allowed to basically try to re-wire their teen if they are gay, trans or other. I am not gay. But if somebody tried to do Gay Conversion therapy on me to make me become gay, it would not work and it would be against my human rights. Why would anybody think that that a non-heterosexual can be converted? It's just another way to pick on and BULLY an already vulnerable group. Live and let live and do not condone inhumane treatment of people who are from the LGBQT group. This group is amazing to draw attention to it.

Up 15 Down 9

Josey Wales on Apr 10, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Hmmm...test one...test two

Up 40 Down 11

Roy on Apr 10, 2019 at 7:03 pm

So a bunch of students got mad about something that isn't even an issue, and the NDP got on board. What a shocker. Conversion "therapy" is most definitely a terrible practice, but not really an issue in the Yukon, or even in Canada as far as I know.

Up 29 Down 12

Groucho d'North on Apr 10, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Do the same attitudes prevail when the conversion therapy goes in the other direction? Like from straight to gay etc.? I'm curious if this is a Principles argument or a political one?

Up 20 Down 9

L'il Foss on Apr 10, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Would an endowment change be tolerated by this group? All my life I've wanted to be more of a warrior. I don't see why I shouldn't be able to become more comfortable with my body and being. How would this be classified?

Up 24 Down 22

Griecko on Apr 10, 2019 at 3:48 pm

No issue with banning this practice. I would also like these gatherers to petition public medical dollars going towards people who want to transform essentially getting enhanced body parts for free.

Up 51 Down 16

Jason on Apr 10, 2019 at 3:35 pm

Sooo, ban something that doesn't exist?

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