Tallahassee’s city commission will vote Wednesday on a local conversion therapy ban. The ban would block licensed providers within the city’s boundaries from using the practice on minors and vulnerable adults.
Local LGBTQ activists have been working on getting a conversion therapy ban passed by the city since last year. Now, their efforts have culminated in the city taking up an ordinance to do just that. It would block licensed providers from practicing conversion therapy on minors and vulnerable adults.
Delilah Pierre is the outreach coordinator for the Tallahassee Community Action Committee. She says the ordinance will make a statement to the LGBTQ community.
“It’s a statement for Tallahassee, and it’s a statement for all the queer and trans children here that we’re coming to help. That there are people who care. That there are people who want to give you the resources and access you need to survive, and that we must do all we can to make sure that they live in a safe and accepting community,” Pierre says.
The ordinance the city is considering defines conversion therapy as an effort to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Some have risen against the ban, saying if someone wants to go from being gay to straight, they should have that option. Pierre says these people are missing the broader context.
“Even though people say 'I’m gay, I want to be straight,' the reason isn’t because they specifically want to be straight. The reason is because of the internalized homophobia and because of our society’s treatment of gay people and queer people,” Pierre says.
National psychiatric and pediatric associations oppose the practice of conversion therapy, saying it’s ineffective and harmful. Under the proposed ban, counseling to support and accept someone who is gay or transgender is allowed, and people who want to undergo gender transitioning can still get assistance.
Tallahassee’s Wednesday city commission meeting will be held online. Any public comments must submitted before the meeting. The deadline to do that is April 7 at 8 p.m.