Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Conversion therapy ban will get a vote in Palm Beach County


Monday, September 25, 2017 
 
Palm Beach County is drafting regulations that would prohibit therapists from trying to change a child's sexual orientation. Advocates have been pushing for more than a year to ban the practice known as conversion therapy, said Rand Hoch, president of Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
 
"When you hear the stories of kids going through this, it is a nightmare," he said. "They are being taught to hate themselves for who they are."
 
Palm Beach County commissioners will consider the matter in November. Their legal staff spent months studying the issue.
 
The Miami-Dade County Commission is set to give final approval to a conversion therapy ban Oct. 3. Several South Florida cities have banned the practice, including Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach and Wilton Manors.
 
Leading medical groups, including the American Psychological Association, have denounced conversion therapy, concluding that trying to change someone's sexual orientation can cause depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse.
 
While not accepted by mainstream medical groups, the therapy is still offered in South Florida. The Human Rights Council has identified at least five licensed therapists who advertise conversion therapy for children in Palm Beach County.
 
Conversion therapists online say they can "address unwanted same-sex attraction" and offer weekend retreats that offer "intensive emotional-healing work." One service advertises, "You'll stand eye to eye with another man while we help you process whatever feelings might arise."
 
Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based nonprofit that bills itself as "restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family," has threatened to sue Palm Beach County if it proceeds with the ban, arguing the measure would violate the First Amendment.
 
Statewide bans on conversion therapy for children have survived court challenges. In one recent case, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit involving New Jersey's ban.
 
Palm Beach County's proposal would not apply to religious groups - only to licensed therapists working with children, County Attorney Denise Nieman said.
 
The county has the authority to issue a fine of up to $500, but the exact process for enforcing the rule is still being developed, she said.
 
With efforts to ban conversion therapy stalled in the state Legislature, Hoch said he hopes the Broward County Commission will be the next board to take up the issue.
 
"It is going to be easier for Broward County to put on agenda when they see a county to the north and a county to the south have already dealt with this," he said. 
 

1 comment:

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