Bill to ban conversion therapy refiled in Florida House

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Rep. Michael Grieco (D-Miami Beach) filed House Bill 41 (HB41) for the second year Aug. 9, which aims to prohibit the discredited practice of conversion therapy throughout Florida.

Conversion therapy purports to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity using “psychological or spiritual intervention.” Florida has no statewide ban on conversion therapy, 21 of its cities, counties and municipalities have banned the practice.

HB41 defines conversion therapy as “any practice or treatment performed on an individual with the goal of changing the individual’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behavior, gender identity or gender expression, or efforts to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward an individual of the same gender.”

The Florida Democratic Office noted, in a press release, “Examples of this pseudo-scientific therapy can include shaming or emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli, with the hope that the victim will associate those stimuli with their identities.” They added that “Over 700,000 members of the LGBTQ community have been subjected to this practice with an expectation that tens of thousands more LGBTQ youth will also fall victim.”

Conversion therapy is widely opposed by prominent health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association. Studies have shown that the practice can lead to depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior including suicide and fractured families.

“LGBTQ Floridians deserve to have their rights protected like every other person in this state,” Grieco advised in the same release. “Conversion therapy is a dangerous, despicable and non-scientific practice that only harms people it is supposedly meant to ‘help.’”

Grieco continued, “The idea that it is still legal to subject our youth to this aggressive and hurtful ‘treatment’ is unconscionable. Treating sexual orientation as a mental illness is demeaning and conversion therapy can lead to many unintended but harmful effects. This isn’t the first time the bill has been carried by me and it’s something near and dear to my heart. ”

The representative also addressed the filing on social media.

I just (re)filed my proposal to end conversion therapy in Florida. Who’s with us? @equalityfl @equalmarriageflorida @…

Posted by State Representative Michael Grieco on Friday, August 9, 2019

If passed, the bill would take effect July 1, 2020. Florida would become one of 16 states to ban conversion therapy and practitioners in violation would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

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