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Bill Aims to Stop Sexual Orientation Therapy

Florida Senate
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Legislation has been filed at the capitol that would prevent therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of kids under the age of 18.

Under bills in both the Florida House and Senate, psychologists, social workers and other mental health providers who are licensed by the state could face disciplinary action if they try to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

Sen. Jeff Clemens has sponsored the legislation, saying parents need to learn how to deal with having a gay child, rather than trying to make the kid change.

Clemens says no one should be forced into a therapy situation that may do more harm than good.

“It actually does the opposite of what the purveyors of these kinds of therapies say it does. It actually damages the mental health of the gay teenager," he said. "And it hasn’t been shown medically, in any convincing way, to work.”

Church counselors would be exempt under the bills.

Additionally, therapists and patients could still discuss sexual orientation, as long as there is not an attempt to change a client from gay to straight.

Similar legislation died in committee last session.

WLRN in Miami. WLRN is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.