LGBT Conversion Therapy Is Dying in Florida—and Fast

A network of LGBT Floridians has rapidly passed 17 local conversion therapy bans in as many months—a feat that no other state besides Ohio has come close to replicating.

In June 2016, Miami Beach banned conversion therapy for minors.

Now, over half of the approximately two dozen U.S. municipalities that have banned the discredited therapy are located in a single state: Florida.

And, as the Sun-Sentinel reported earlier this week, Broward County—which contains Fort Lauderdale, and has a population of nearly 2 million—is aiming to add to that number with a ban of their own.

The practice of trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity is on its way to becoming extinct in the Sunshine State.

As frequent Florida vacationer Donald Trump might say, “There’s something going on.”

More specifically, a well-organized network of LGBT Floridians have rapidly passed 17 local conversion therapy bans in as many months—a feat that no other state besides Ohio has even come close to replicating.

“Local leaders have really taken it upon themselves to lead where the state legislature has failed,” Hannah Willard, senior policy director for Equality Florida told The Daily Beast, adding, proudly, “Not only do we have the most local conversion therapy bans passed, we also have the most local human rights ordinances passed out of any state in the country without state-level protections.”
In a media economy that often positions Florida as the butt of bad jokes—Willard, laughing, tells The Daily Beast that “we are a very unique state in many ways” and that “we know all of the memes”—this grassroots achievement has largely gone overlooked.

Florida, like 41 other states, does not have a statewide ban on conversion therapy for minors—even though virtually every major medical association has condemned the practice as dangerous, unethical, and premised on the false assumption that LGBT identity can be changed. (The American Psychiatric Association, for example, warns that the risks of conversion therapy are “great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.”)

Nor does Florida have statewide protections for LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. With a Republican-dominated legislature in Tallahassee and Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the governor’s mansion, Florida is not exactly fertile ground for such efforts.

Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich is familiar with these limitations. A former state legislator who spent a total of 12 years serving in the state Senate and the House of Representatives, Rich proposed Broward County’s conversion therapy ban after joining the commission in 2016.

“We have not had any success at the state legislature,” Rich told The Daily Beast, noting that a statewide conversion therapy ban has now failed two years in a row.