Commissioner Justin Flippen doesn’t want the term “survivor” applied to anymore LGBT youth.
Flippen, a survivor of conversion therapy, took the lead on an ordinance that bans the practice of conversion therapy within Wilton Manors. Flippen said he was not a minor at the time he went through conversion therapy and was not forced to participate by his parents. But wants to ensure the practice, which can lead to suicide, is banned.
Passed unanimously by the commission on Aug. 23, the new law prohibits licensed professionals from engaging in counseling that attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The penalty for violations is $200 for every day that the therapy takes place.
Often called reparative therapy, the controversial practice has already been banned by Washington, D.C. and several states, including California, Oregon, New Jersey and New York.
In March, two bills in the Florida legislature, HB 137 and SB 258, that would have made conversion therapy illegal for minors in the state, failed to get out of committee. In June, Miami Beach passed a ban on the practice.
The practice is also opposed by multiple professional psychiatric and health organizations, including the American Medical Association [AMA] and American Psychological Association.
On its website, the AMA states that it “opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
Justin Klecha, director of campaigns for SAVE, an organization that fights anti-LGBT discrimination, said the city’s actions sends the right “message to our youth.” He added that his organization was going from city to city to urge other commission’s to do the same.
But not everyone thinks the commission should be focused on issues like this.
Resident Benjamin Little, at a commission meeting in July, said officials should worry more about matters that have a larger impact on the city. In 2010, he also criticized the commission for spending time on sending a resolution to state and federal lawmakers that called for banning oil drilling off of Florida’s coast in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The electorate is getting tired of this. Don’t fix things which aren’t broken. You have bigger fish to fry,” said Little in July. “They are Wilton Manors Commissioners, not people who are tasked with saving the rest of the world.”