After at least 22 Florida jurisdictions have adopted ordinances banning conversion therapy on minors, the City Commission is considering a similar local ordinance in Tallahassee. At their Dec. 4 meeting, the commissioners will review a report on the issue of conversion therapy and introduce a proposed local ordinance and resolution.
Conversion therapy is a controversial practice that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity through approaches like aversion therapy, talk therapy, or prayer. In legislation, the practice is often referred to as “SOCE,” which stands for “sexual orientation change efforts.”
SOCE is controversial because of its potential negative effects on mental health patients. According to a report from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (APA Task Force), effects of SOCE on patients can include depression, self-hatred, and high-risk sexual behaviors.
In efforts to protect minors from the negative impacts of SOCE, at least 22 Florida jurisdictions have banned the practice on minors by passing local ordinances.
The proposed ordinance in Tallahassee would follow suit and “ban the practice of conversion therapy within the City of Tallahassee on minors,” staff reports. The ordinance would apply to licensed mental health providers.
Notably, according to the report, the ordinance would not stop licensed mental health providers from expressing their views about SOCE or recommending SOCE to patients. Licensed providers would also still be allowed to administer SOCE to patients above the age of 18.
Additionally, according to the report, licensed providers could still refer patients to unlicensed providers like religious leaders, who could administer SOCE to minors or adults. Minors could also seek SOCE in other municipalities without bans.
The City Commission will vote on holding a public hearing in 2020 for the proposed ordinance. Once passed, the ordinance will take effect immediately.