In an unprecedented move, Florida's Palm Beach County has become the first county in the state to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors. Though opponents have long argued that the use of conversion therapy to change sexual orientation has no scientific value and is potentially dangerous, religious groups object to the ban on the grounds that it infringes on free speech and parental rights.
While the ban only applies to licensed therapists and not to clergy, anti-gay organizations such as the Orlando-based Liberty Council have already filed lawsuits to block similar bans in cities such as Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Boca Raton. There are no available statistics on how many gay, lesbian, and transgender minors have already been forced into treatment though both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association oppose its use. Numerous research articles have already demonstrated the potentially traumatic effects such therapy can have on patients forced into treatment.
The latest ban was approved after a 5-2 vote in mid-December. Despite concerns about a potential lawsuit over the ban, it is expected to take effect as soon as it is filed with the Florida Department of State.