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Eleventh Circuit Ruling Strikes Down Palm Beach County Conversion Therapy Ban

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Lambda Legal‘s CEO, Kevin Jennings, issued the following statement:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today reversed a lower court ruling and struck down local Palm Beach County, Florida, and City of Boca Raton ordinances banning so-called conversion therapy on minors.

The City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County joined states and municipalities across the country who have properly banned the discredited and harmful practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ on minors in order to protect LGBTQ youth. Laws prohibiting this dangerous practice have withstood legal challenges in numerous courts. Today’s decision is a marked departure from precedent and an incredibly dangerous decision for our youth.

So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is nothing less than child abuse. It poses documented and proven critical health risks, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide. Youth are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of parents who don’t know or don’t believe that the efforts are harmful and doomed to fail: when these efforts predictably fail to produce the expected result, many LGBTQ children are kicked out of their homes.

Both judges joining today’s decision were appointed by President Trump.  We fear that today’s decision may be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the harm that may come from a federal judiciary that has been packed for the last four years with dangerous ideologues. The damage done by this misguided opinion is incalculable and puts young people in danger.

The American Psychological Association‘s president, Sandra L. Shullman, issued a statement in response to the ruling:

“Sexual orientation change therapy is highly unlikely to change a patient’s sexual orientation and there is real evidence of harm, according to a 2009 study of the peer-reviewed scientific literature conducted by the American Psychological Association,” said APA President Sandra L. Shullman, PhD. “The scientific research since 2009 has greatly increased the evidence that participants in such efforts believe they were harmful. Although these results came mostly from studies of adults, APA shared with the court our concern about the likely harmful effects on minors who cannot legally consent to such procedures. The presumption behind these treatments is that any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is inherently flawed and must be fixed. Based on the available research, APA rejects the presumption that a gay or lesbian young person must change.”

“The conclusion that talk therapy is merely a viewpoint expression denigrates psychotherapy and ignores the fact that licensed practicing psychologists base their professional activities on scientific evidence,” Shullman said. “This ruling is wrong-headed and may well result in harm to patients, especially minors who are often subjected to this type of therapy against their will.”

The Trevor Project‘s CEO and Executive Director Amit Paley issued the following statement:

“Conversion therapy is fraud. No matter how hard you try, you cannot change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This so-called therapy has only ever proven to produce negative mental health outcomes and increase the risk of suicide. According to The Trevor Project’s research, LGBTQ youth who had undergone conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide as those who did not. That’s why this dangerous practice has been discredited by major medical associations and prohibited by several Florida localities. This misguided decision sends a terrible message to the LGBTQ young people of Florida, who want nothing more than to be respected for who they are. 

“It’s also worth noting that this decision is an outlier. All other federal appeals courts have upheld similar protections against conversion therapy. And 20 states and more than 80 localities have enacted similar laws with strong bipartisan support. At The Trevor Project, we will continue working to correct this wrong decision and to remind all LGBTQ young people that they deserve love and support.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) issued the following statement in response to the 11th Circuit Court decision:

“I am disappointed and dismayed at this court decision. It’s wrong on the facts. Banning conversion therapy doesn’t concern free speech – it’s about fraud. Conversion therapy peddles treatments for an ailment that doesn’t exist. There is nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or queer. Suggesting someone can sell a “cure” to being LGBTQ+ is harmful and dishonest. That’s why I wrote the first federal bill to ban conversion therapy as a deceptive practice. Instead, the courts and our legislative bodies should focus on ways to affirm the identities of members of the LGBTQ+ community and create a more just and equitable society.”

Out New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (Manhattan-D/WFP), who co-sponsored New York’s conversion therapy ban for minors, issued the following statement:

The practice known as  ‘conversion therapy’ is barbaric and fraudulent child abuse and has no place in our society. This decision by Trump-appointed judges is a perversion of justice that wrongly weaponizes the First Amendment against LGBTQ youth. I am proud to have sponsored New York’s ban on conversion therapy, which remains in full effect despite this horrendous decision, and I will fight tooth and nail against efforts to roll back legal protections for young LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

Chase is the founder and Creative Director of therepubliq.com, former host and Executive Producer of OutCast Austin, an award-winning LGBT weekly radio program on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. In 2011, he was named the Critics Pick for 'Most Gaybiquitous' in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin. In 2012, CultureMap Austin named him one of Austin's Top LGBT bloggers and he received the AGLCC's Chamber Award for Social Media Diva.

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october 2021

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