Truth Wins Out Condemns Ruling That Strikes Down Tampa’s Conversion Therapy Ban

Misguided Concern Over Parental Rights Leaves Children Captive to Child Abuse

PHILADELPHIA – Truth Wins Out (TWO) condemned a reckless ruling by U.S. District Judge William Jung that struck down a Tampa law enacted by the City Council in 2017 that banned the discredited practice of “ex-gay” conversion therapy for minors.

“This decision allows the continuation of malpractice disguised as medicine that psychologically scars children while exploiting their parents by conning them into paying for a service that never works,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Conversion therapy is consumer fraud and ought to banned, particularly for minors.”

The ruling mostly pertained to jurisdiction, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Substantive regulation of psychotherapy is a state, not a municipal concern,” Jung wrote in a 50-page opinion. The Times reported that the city will consult with its outside counsel before deciding whether to appeal the ruling. The Tampa law was modeled on one in Boca Raton, which was upheld after a similar legal challenge. That case is headed to an appellate court.

While the legal issue over the jurisdictional authority will be settled in the courts, Judge Jung’s opinion relied on other ideas that were dangerous and put kids at dire risk for child abuse. For example, the judge invoked a parent’s right to choose healthcare for their children.

“Parents don’t have the right to engage in child abuse, and that is precisely the definition of conversion therapy,” said TWO’s Wayne Besen. “Indeed, conversion therapy is not really therapy at all in the traditional sense. It is cruel religious indoctrination designed to exacerbate shame, with a patina of medical language hitched on to make the trauma more palatable. There are no happy outcomes with this so-called therapy, and a trail of victims whose lives have been destroyed.”

Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, called for a state law banning conversion therapy for minors. “What is clear from this ruling is that conversion therapy bans that protect children from this dangerous quackery are not unconstitutional,” Smith said. “Florida should join the states that have eliminated this debunked and dangerous practice.” Eighteen states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico ban it for minors.

Every respected medical and mental health organization in the world considers attempts to change sexual orientation potentially dangerous. The American Psychiatric Association says that sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) can lead to “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior”, including suicide. The American Psychological Association says, “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” Such “therapy” is considered so detrimental that sixteen states and the District of Colombia ban practicing it on minors.

According Dr. Caitlin Ryan’s study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “LGBT teens who were highly rejected by their families were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs.” (Caitlin Ryan, San Francisco State University, June 2009).

 Another study by Dr. Ryan, who also directs the Family Acceptance Project, reports:

“Parent-initiated attempts to change participant’s sexual orientation during adolescence were associated with more negative mental health problems for young adults.”(Journal of Homosexuality, Nov. 2018)

Founded in 2006, Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit think tank and advocacy organization that fights against right wing extremism, the “ex-gay” myth and anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination.