Mendell Doubles Down on Vote Supporting LGBTQ Conversion Therapy Funding

By Brent Woodcox

While Kay Crowder was busy backpedaling on a grant from the city to the NeighborHealth clinic, a nonprofit that is partially funded by groups that back LGBTQ conversion therapy, fellow councilor Stef Mendell was doubling down on her vote to grant this funding to a group tied to those who target the LGBTQ community saying, “At this point, I think I’m willing to let the vote stand.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Kay Crowder asked the council Tuesday to give $30,000 from the city’s contingency fund to NeighborHealth, a nonprofit clinic founded in 2018 in Northwest Raleigh. According to the clinic’s website, its mission is to “[serve] Christ by loving our neighbors through the practice of excellent, compassionate and accessible health care.”

According to its website, NeighborHealth partners with Gateway Pregnancy Center, an anti-abortion-rights nonprofit on Hillsborough Street whose website warns women about the alleged physical, psychological, emotional, and “spiritual” consequences of obtaining an abortion, and asks patients to consider: “How does God see your unborn child?”

NeighborHealth also partners with Church of the Apostles, a Raleigh ministry that invites congregants to connect with the program Beyond Imagination on its site. Beyond Imagination aims to “bring God’s healing and redemptive power to those who struggle with undesired homosexuality, sexual addictions, and women with a history of childhood sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.”

So-called conversion therapy has been banned for minors in several states and is strongly opposed by the American Psychiatric Association, which says the practice creates “a significant risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated.”

Crowder said Tuesday that NeighborHealth “takes care of an underserved community,” including those without insurance. The group was late to the city’s grant application process, so she wanted to give it leftover funds from the contingency fund. She made no mention of the group’s connection to anti-choice or pro-LGBTQ-conversion groups. ...

Council members Stef Mendell, Corey Branch, and Nicole Stewart told the INDY they were unaware of the NeighborHealth’s anti-abortion connections when they voted to fund the clinic Tuesday.

Mendell now says that, while the vote was a mistake, she thinks the clinic should keep the money because it provides affordable health care for uninsured patients.

“I regret that I voted for it,” Mendell says. “At this point, I think I’m willing to let the vote stand. We voted to fund them for one time only to help them get on their feet, and they do a lot of good work, especially in the immigrant community.” ...
— Leigh Tauss - Indy Week
Brent Woodcox