Greenacres Moves to Join List of Florida Cities to Ban Conversion Therapy

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After the first reading, the Greenacres City Council unanimously voted to enact an ordinance to ban conversion therapy on minors in their city last Monday night. 

Conversion therapy is the use of unregulated and largely theoretical therapeutic tactics and methods in an attempt to ‘correct’ the sexual orientation or gender identity of an LGBT individual. 

In order to enact the ban, a final vote next month is required to finalize the process. This would place Greenacres on a growing list of Florida cities who have enacted similar bans on conversion therapy for minors. This list includes Wilton Manors, West Palm Beach, Wellington, Delray Beach and more. 

Many professionals and organizations, including the American Psychological Association, have discredited the practice — stating that evidence for its effectiveness was based on discriminatory assumptions and observations not submitted for peer review. 

"Conversion therapy is an extremely dangerous and fraudulent practice that claims to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity," said Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

McCoy continued, "This bogus practice is premised on the lie that LGBTQ individuals have a 'condition' that needs to be cured. This evening, the Greenacres City Council took a step in the right direction by approving this ordinance to ban this harmful practice on minors. The commission has sent a message to LGBTQ youth: 'You are perfect the way you are and do not need to be 'fixed.’'"

Proponents of the ban were met with dissent when they enacted a similar ban in Wellington. Therapists and parents in opposition said the ban would infringe on their rights and the rights of their children, arguing that youth should have the choice to undergo conversion therapy if they have unwanted homosexual feelings or experience gender dysphoria. 

“Children are almost always forced into conversion therapy by parents who find it impossible to accept the fact that their children identify as gay or lesbian,” Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Board Member Meredith Ockman said. “For more than twenty years, studies have shown conversion therapy to be extremely harmful to children.” 

This ban only affects state licensed therapists, however. Unlicensed therapists, such as clergy, are still able to perform conversion therapy.

"Any ethical mental health practitioner should not attempt to cure or repair gender identity or sexual orientation through these scientifically invalid techniques," PBCHRC psychologist Rachel Needle said. "Attempting to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity can have a devastating impact on a minor."