Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Florida lawmaker files bill to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 3:45 PM

  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
A South Florida lawmaker has filed a bill to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors.

"Conversion therapy," also known as "reparative therapy," is a debunked practice that falsely claims to be able to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ advocates argue conversion therapy is not only fraudulent but also dangerous, especially for young people.

The bill, SB 84, was filed last week by state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, D-Miami, and would prohibit licensed mental health practitioners and counselors from practicing or performing conversion therapy on individuals under 18. Rodríguez and other Democrats filed similar bills banning the practice last year in the Florida Legislature but those measures died in session.

"In most states it is still legal to force children into conversion therapy and that is wrong," Rodríguez said in a statement. "When it comes to this debunked practice, there is no conversion and there is no therapy. So-called conversion therapy does not work because youth are who they are. They should be supported rather than shamed. More importantly, the practice we seek to ban is not therapy. The long-term, even lethal, damage it does to youth is well documented. If you’re going to be a licensed practitioner in Florida, refraining from harming our youth with this debunked practice should be a basic requirement."

Under the bill, licensed professionals who perform conversion therapy on minors would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

"Conversion therapy is a profoundly dangerous form of rejection with no basis in medicine or science," said Equality Florida's public policy director Jon Harris Maurer in a statement. "Unless lawmakers act to end the practice in every state, countless LGBTQ youth will be subjected to forms of conversion therapy in the next few years. Conversion therapy is a deceptive and utterly discredited practice that targets some of the most vulnerable in our state – LGBTQ young people."

While several municipalities in Florida have banned conversion therapy, including Tampa, Miami, Palm Beach County and Broward County, neither Orange County nor the City of Orlando have explicitly banned it. The Orlando Sentinel reported in January that city and county officials said the issue hasn't found traction in Central Florida, although there is at least one petition requesting Orlando and Orange County officials to ban the practice.

The Maitland-based group Liberty Counsel is suing several Florida cities, including Tampa in federal court, over conversion therapy bans. The conservative anti-LGBTQ organization argues the ban violates First Amendment rights.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

Tags: , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation