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Conversion therapy in Baja California

 July 26, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson, filling in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, July 26th.

Conversion therapy in Baja California. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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Gas prices keep falling. The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in San Diego County dropped to five-dollars-and-69-cents yesterday (Monday). So, if you’re filling a 15-gallon tank, you’re spending about eighty five dollars. That’s nine dollars less than it was a month ago.

But prices are still not anywhere close to cheap. This time last year, the average price was four-dollars-and-32-cents a gallon … which means filling that 15 gallon tank cost 20 dollars less then – than it does today..

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Efforts to find housing for homeless seniors in San Diego took a step forward yesterday (Monday). National CORE and its partners broke ground on 73 supportive apartment homes in San Diego’s Nestor neighborhood. The apartments will be for seniors 55 and older, They will be built on property owned by the Nestor United Methodist Church. The Nestor Senior Village will include a community room and private offices for case management.

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As downtown San Diego cleans up from Comic-Con … businesses say they also cleaned up – financially … Economic numbers won’t be available for a little while … but the convention's impact on local economy is estimated to be over 165-million dollars …. With 90 million in direct spending. All told, more than 135-thousand people visited the convention center this weekend. .. and they left a lot of trash…Downtown San Diego Partnership officials say more than 46-THOUSAND pounds of trash were picked up … that’s twice the normal amount.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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The governor of Baja California vetoed a ban on conversion therapy – the debunked practice that aims to change people’s sexual orientation. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis says the region’s gay rights activists are now fighting back.

The memories remain raw for 27-year-old Benjamin Sanchez. As the teenage son of a pastor in an ultra-Christian community of Tijuana, his identity was considered a sin. Church leaders told him that conversion therapy would cure him. But he ended up traumatized. “Tenia que mirar a un Espejo y decirme – yo no soy esto, no me gustan los hombres, ser afeminado esta mal, ser afeminado es estar contra el plan que dios tiene para mi.” I had to look at a mirror and say, “I am not this, I do not like men, being feminine is bad, being feminine goes against god’s plan for me. For years, the so-called therapy left him confused and prone to panic attacks. So this spring, when he heard that Baja California’s state congress was going to ban conversion therapy, Sanchez decided to speak out. “Creo que es mi responsabilidad – yo que pude salir vivo de esto – que nadie mas lo tenga que vover a pasar en su vida.” I think it’s my responsibility – as someone who lived through this and survived – that no one else has to go through this. He says it is his responsibility – as someone who lived through it and survived – to ensure that no one else go through what he did. The state congress initially passed a ban in April. But Governor Marina del Pilar vetoed the ban. Instead, she chose to regulate the industry. The governor’s regulations give parents the right to choose to send their kids to conversion therapy – as long as the children aren’t forced to go. Activists quickly pointed out that several international medical groups – including the American Psychological Association – have debunked conversion therapy as a dangerous pseudo-science. “Ya hay muchas instituciones tanto a nivel nacional como a invel internacional y global que han marcado que no son validas, no funcionan, danan, son contra producentes, genera stigma genera trauma.” There are a lot of groups - both at the national and international level - who have said these therapies do not work, they harm people, they generate stigma and trauma. That was Cesar Esponoa, director of the COCUT, a Tijuana-based GLBTQ rights nonprofit. He says studies have shown that conversion therapy does more harm than good. California banned the practice for minors in 2012 – party because experts say people subjected to conversion therapy end up with a higher risk of suicidal behavior. Ilan Meyer of the UCLA WIlliams Institute says people who are exposed to conversion therapy are more likely to suffer from several mental conditions. “That could lead to suicide attempts, depression, anxiety, substance disorders and a range of mental health problems.” Shortly after the governor announced her regulations, COCUT filed a lawsuit seeking to keep the original law – the one passed by the Baja California congress. Sanchez and other advocates say the regulations create a massive loophole because most of the people in conversion therapy are minors who have been manipulated by their parents and churches into going to conversion therapy. Sanchez said that as a teenager, if anyone would have asked him if he chose to go to conversion therapy he would have said it was his idea. “Yo le ubiera dicho si porque yo se que es lo correcto y se que yo no quiere esto en mi vida y no queire ser una persona homosexual.” I would have told them yes, I want to be here because this is right, I don’t want this in my life I don’t want to be gay I would have told them yes; I want to be here because this is the right thing to do. I don’t want to be gay. Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

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Wastewater is showing COVID cases in San Diego are increasing dramatically. KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman says hospitals are preparing for what could be coming--

Data from the point loma treatment plant shows a sharp increase in the amount of COVID found in San Diegans wastewater..Dr. William Tseng, Kaiser San Diego What that tells us is that in the next 2-4 weeks we’re going to be dealing with more cases of covid, no doubt about that Dr. William Tseng is assistant chief of staff for Kaiser San Diego.. He says wastewater has proven to be an early indicator of when COVID cases are rising. This summer surge is driven by the highly contagious BA5 subvariant. Tseng It is a very concerning sign that cases are out there and they’re going to grow Tseng We really never know that we’re over the peak until we’re on the other side so it’s hard to predict but we’re not on the other side yet COVID-related hospitalizations have been increasing. Tseng expects the uptick to continue. He recommends people mask up and get boosters. MH KPBS News.

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The San Diego city council voted Monday to put reforming the people’s ordinance on the November ballot. It will be up to city residents to decide if single family homes will have to pay fees for trash pick up. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has details …

The People’s Ordinance says the city cannot charge some citizens - mostly single family homeowners - a fee for trash pickup. We have a 100 year old rule on the books that is not built for a modern day society and we’re all worse off for it Council President Sean Elo-Rivera was a yes vote – he notes trash collection isn’t really free… it’s currently paid for out of the city’s general fund. He says if voters reject the reform proposal in November, some tough choices will have to be made. Our general fund will continue to take the hit and it takes the hit in the rage of about $50 million dollars per year and that’s $50 million dollars that won’t otherwise be able to be spent on parks, libraries, firefighters, lifeguards, Kitty Alvarado KPBS News

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Coming up.... Goats are now working for SDG-and-E. We’ll have that story and more, after the break.

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No, there isn't a new petting zoo in town. But San Diegans may have noticed herds of goats in open land areas… KPBS reporter Tania Thorne tells us, the animals are not hanging out to graze, the goats are actually working for San-Diego-Gas-AND-Electric.

Goats are SDG&E’s newest wildfire fighting partners. Last month, the energy company started anew goat grazing pilot program. Rented goats are taken to high-risk fire areas to clear out dry brush. Johnny Gonzales is the owner of the environmental land management company. “On the card it says goats for hire because people didn't know what environmental land management did so I had to get it out there. Yea we rent out and you guys can utilize our goats for fire breaks.” Gonzales says the goats aren’t just reducing wildfire danger, but carbon emissions too. Its a lot better than just cutting. You don't have the shaft and duff laying around, They've literally converted it. And for the carbon aspect, its still all onsite, it hasn't been transported out. The nutrients are still in the soils and theres no seeds. The goats remove like 99% of the seeds.” Gonzales says once the goats are done, the land is in better shape to suppress a fire. SDGE has used Gonzales’s goats in Oceanside and Chula Vista to clear brush near power lines. The next site will be in Escondido. TT KPBS News

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About a dozen San Diego County high school students spent the past week becoming robot inventors. They are using part of their summer vacation to learn more about science and technology. Joshua Williams is an alumnus of the University of San Diego, where he founded USD’s student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. He hosted the first-time science camp for students with the Young Echelon organization, that helps to empower the next generation of black leaders. Students spent the week designing their own robots using their cell phones to direct them in performing simple tasks.

“We introduce them to concepts like…what is binary code? So they will know the foundation that all coding is based upon. So that when they go out into the world in the future, they’re ready just to dive right into it.”

The Young Echelon organization also provides summer training for high school students of color to learn skills in business leadership and community outreach.

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Comic-Con is over but for some artists who attended the show and went to portfolio reviews, their work may be just beginning. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando gathered interviews from publishers and artists on Friday at Comic-Con’s portfolio review area in the Sails Pavilion.

The publishers interviewed were Tom Dowerty of Committed Comics and Hank Kanalz of Clover Press. The artists interviewed were Julian Aguilera, Maximus Spragovsky, Alston Novak and Sarah Landauer.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Erik Anderson. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

The governor of Baja California vetoed a ban on conversion therapy earlier this year, and now the region’s gay rights activists are fighting back. In San Diego County, wastewater shows that COVID cases are spiking. Plus, nearly 50,000 pounds of trash were left downtown after Comic-Con festivities ended.