The Cooper City commission passed a resolution in support of the Florida cities that are fighting to ban conversion therapy.
The resolution, drafted by Commissioner Max Pulcini, passed 4-1 on Jan. 26.
“Personally, I believe the scientists or the doctors who say that [conversion therapy is] dangerous, who say that the children are scarred by it and are traumatized by it. I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Pulcini said in an interview. “I think people are born the way they’re born. You shouldn’t try to convert them because they’re not broken.”
In November, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the municipalities’ bans on conversion therapy be unconstitutional. Many cities have banded together to demand a rehearing of the issue, including Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale.
Cooper City city attorney Jacob Horowitz reassured the commission that the resolution would not open up the city to any lawsuits, as “all it does is express the commissioner’s support of their efforts.” Pulcini said he doesn’t believe that the commission would have been in favor of drafting an ordinance.
“We missed the date to join the fight and I don’t think I would have had the support from the commission to join the fight anyway,” Pulcini said. “The way the meeting went, the things that were said at the meeting, there may have been a reluctance to actually go to court or face any consequences.”
Cooper City Commissioner Jeff Green was the lone “no” vote on the resolution.
Commissioner Ryan Shrouder noted that he “didn’t know much about conversion therapy” when Pulcini initially brought it to the commission, but after researching and hearing from residents, he is against it.
“While I generally am not a fan of local government regulating professionals, in this situation, I have learned about conversion therapy, I do think we should support a ban on it and I thought that this topic is important enough to override my typical concern for regulating professionals,” he said.
Conversion therapy — also known as reparative therapy — is a practice where LGBT people, including minors lead by their parents, undergo psychological treatment to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This can include “praying the gay away” or more extreme aversion tactics.
Multiple organizations, including the American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and the National Association of Social Workers, have denounced the practice and stand by the science that sexual orientation and gender identity are not diseases that need curing.
“There is no First Amendment right to practice junk science on LGBT minors,” Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora has said, in the past.
During an earlier Jan. 12 Cooper City Commission meeting, when the resolution was initially brought up, Mayor Greg Ross said he is against conversion therapy but didn’t think it was an issue they needed to be making decisions on.
“While I have my own opinion on conversion therapy, I like to stay in my lane representing the residents. I don’t see this issue as an issue that concerns a city government,” he said. “I think the city of Miami, Miami Beach and Boca were wrong, that they’re sticking their nose in places that it doesn’t belong.”
He reiterated his stance in the Jan. 26 vote, but still voted in favor of the resolution.
And why did Pulcini bring the resolution to the dais in the first place? His daughter, who is a lesbian.
“I did it for her,” he said. “Often [LGBTQ people are] not accepted, they’re not well received, and I just felt that giving a little gesture of showing that we’re all in this together was just a small token. It’s the minimum we can do.”