Conversion therapy, which is meant to turn gay people straight, may soon be banned for young people in Florida.
A bill by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) would ban conversion therapy for everyone 18 years old and younger, but it would only apply to conversion therapy offered by licensed professionals like psychologists and counselors.
Religious groups and other non-professional organizations would still be able to offer the therapy for young people.
The American Psychological Association says these therapies have not been proven to be effective or safe.
Clinton Anderson is the director of the association’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office. He says the organization opposes these therapies altogether, especially for children and teenagers.
“We do think there is a heightened concern when you’re talking about young people because they are more vulnerable and not in control of their own lives,” he said.
While there is no standardized procedure for conversion therapies, Anderson said the basic idea behind them could be harmful to teenagers' development.
“To have an experience of being strongly encouraged to think that a part of themselves is bad or wrong and should change; we don’t think that’s healthy for young people," he said.
Participants in the therapies have reported feeling depressed or even suicidal, usually after they felt the therapies did not work. Others say they got rid of their unwanted sexual desires.
Anderson said adults should be able to make their own choices about whether to undergo the process. The laws in other states support that. California and New Jersey are the only two states that have restrictions on conversion therapy. Both states have banned it for minors, allowing adults to seek out the therapy if they choose.
The states have met multiple legal challenges to their restrictions but so far, courts in both states have upheld the laws.