Federal Circuit Court Rules Bans on LGBT Conversion Therapy for Minors Unconstitutional
Attempting to “cure” a gay or transgender minor via conversion therapy counts as protected First Amendment speech and can’t simply be banned by ordinances, a federal appeals court ruled today.
LGBT activists and psychological experts have been targeting conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice that harms children for years. Some states have begun banning the treatment, starting with New Jersey and California in 2013. Now, it’s forbidden in 20 states, and several cities and counties have passed their own laws against it.
Florida doesn’t ban conversion therapy statewide, but the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County passed ordinances in 2017 that banned licensed professionals from treating minors with “any counseling, practice or treatment performed with the goal of changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expression, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender or sex.”
Two therapists sued, arguing that the therapy they provided is voluntary, offered to clients who wish to reduce their attraction to individuals of the same sex or to reduce feelings of being the wrong gender. They claimed that the therapy they were providing consisted entirely of speech, and is therefore protected by the First Amendment.
In a 47-page decision for Otto v. City of Boca Raton, a circuit panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled, 2-1, that this conv
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