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Delray Beach, Fla., Outlaws So-Called 'Conversion Therapy' on Kids

by Tucker Berardi
Saturday May 6, 2017

The number of cities in South Florida that still allow the practice of conversion therapy on minors is dwindling - yesterday one more city commission unanimously decided to ban the practice within city limits.

Delray Beach followed in the footsteps of Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth and other cities on May 2 with the decision to ban all licensed state officials from practicing conversion therapy on anyone under the age of 18. The action to vote on the ban came at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC), which has worked to enact similar bans across South Florida.

"LGBTQ people are not mentally ill. They are not flawed and they do not need to be 'cured' by anyone," Delray Beach City Commissioner Mitch Katz said in a statement from PBCHRC. "Tonight, the Delray Beach City Commission is letting the public know that we oppose conversion therapy being performed on minors. It is not going to happen in our city."

The ban only applies to doctors, osteopaths, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage or family therapists and licensed counselors. Members of the clergy are not affected, unless they are also licensed by the state in mental health.

During the meeting, Dr. Julie Herren Hamilton urged the commissioners to vote down the ban, stating that an enactment of the ordinance would prohibit children distressed by homosexuality from getting help.

Herren Hamilton is the former president of NARTH (The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), which is a small organization made up of therapists seeking to diminish the rights of LGBT people with claims that they are mentally disabled. They advocate anti-LGBT therapy for children as young as three years old.

"Dr. Hamilton is intentionally trying to mislead the City Commission," Judge Rand Hoch, founder and president of PBCHRC said. "Minors protected by the ordinance may seek out treatment from licensed professionals - as well as from unlicensed individuals, including members of the clergy - in addressing any issues regarding their sexuality."

"Nothing in the ordinance will prevent minors from seeking help regarding same-sex attractions, or gender identity or expression," Hoch continued.

Since August 2009, the American Psychological Association has recognized that reparative treatment, or conversion therapy, relied entirely on anti-LGBT bigotry and a distortion of scientific data. The "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Response to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" was adopted by the association to affirm their stance.

"The American Psychological Association has linked conversion therapy to depression, substance abuse and even suicide, and these risks are particularly acute for youth," Carolyn Reyes, Policy Council and Coordinator of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)'s Born Perfect Campaign to end conversion therapy said in a statement.

Reyes continued, "We applaud the efforts by the Commission to ensure that the children of Delray Beach are protected from these harms, and that their families aren't duped by trusted professionals to whom they turn for support during a vulnerable time."

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