As the bill’s language explains, “the term ‘conversion therapy’ means any practice or treatment performed on an individual with the goal of changing the individual’s sexual orientation.”
The measure includes examples such as “efforts to change behavior, gender identity, or gender expression, or efforts to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward an individual of the same gender.”
Grieco’s bill explicitly does not apply to efforts to support individuals going through a gender transition.
“LGBTQ Floridians deserve to have their rights protected like every other person in this state,” Grieco said of the legislation.
The controversial practice of conversion therapy has been pushed by a handful of religious organizations, aiming to “convert” gay individuals by pushing them to live as a straight person.
The science behind such efforts has been repeatedly challenged. As the American Psychological Association notes, “The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.”
Grieco’s bill aims at dissuading licensed professionals from practicing conversion therapy by threatening sanctions.
The measure bars individuals licensed as a medical practitioner, osteopathic physician, psychologist, psychotherapist, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist or mental health counselor from performing conversion therapy.
Any individual who does so “engages in unprofessional conduct and is subject to disciplinary proceedings by the [Department of Health] and the appropriate board.”
“Conversion therapy is a dangerous, despicable and non-scientific practice that only harms people it is supposedly meant to ‘help,’ ” Grieco added.
“The idea that it is still legal to subject our youth to this aggressive and hurtful ‘treatment’ is unconscionable. Treating sexual orientation as a mental illness is demeaning and conversion therapy can lead to many unintended but harmful effects. This isn’t the first time the bill has been carried by me and it’s something near and dear to my heart.”
If approved, the act would take effect on July 1, 2020.
Grieco’s bill revives an effort last Session to institute the same sort of sanctions. But it died before advancing through a single committee. Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez introduced a companion bill during the 2019 Session. But that too died before getting through a committee.