Born Perfect Praises City of Tallahassee for Passing Ordinance to End Conversion Therapy

Unanimous vote by Tallahassee City Council ensures that LGBTQ youth and vulnerable adults in Florida capital will be protected from this harmful practice

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 10, 2020) — On Thursday, the Tallahassee City Council unanimously passed the state’s most inclusive ordinance to protect minors and vulnerable adults from conversion therapy – the harmful practice that seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition to providing that licensed mental health professionals may not perform conversion therapy on minors or vulnerable adults, the ordinance prohibits the use of city funds to pay for  the practice that has been widely condemned by every leading medical and mental health organization in this country. The Tallahassee ordinance is now the most robust restriction against the practice in the state of Florida.

The City of Tallahassee joins more than 70 municipalities, 20 states, and the District of Columbia that have adopted similar protections.  

With the passage of the Tallahassee ordinance, Florida now has more than 20 local laws protecting minors from conversion therapy—more than any other state in the country.

Survivor’s perspective

“The continued efforts by legislators across the state to protect LGBTQ youth are lifesaving,” said Mathew Shurka, Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of Born Perfect. “Conversion therapy destroys families and causes serious harm to minors, sometimes leading to suicide. We are grateful to the Tallahassee City Councilors who passed this ordinance unanimously. Their vote sends a powerful message to every child that they are born perfect.”

Last year, conversion therapists represented by Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based organization designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, challenged three of Florida’s local protections in two separate federal lawsuits.

Defending other Florida bans

In February 2019, US District Judge Robin Rosenberg upheld the local laws passed in Palm Beach County and Boca Raton. Judge Rosenberg rejected Liberty Counsel’s argument that the laws violated the right to free speech and freedom of religion, citing “extensive credible evidence of the damage that conversion therapy inflicts.”  The case is Otto v. City of Boca Raton.

In October 2019, in one of his first major rulings since being appointed to the bench by President Trump, US District Judge William Fung struck down Tampa’s local law. Judge Fung held that Florida cities do not have the power to regulate mental health providers, which he said belongs exclusively to the state. The case is Vazzo v. City of Tampa.

Both of these lower court rulings are on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit court of appeals. The Eleventh Circuit heard oral arguments in Otto on February 11, 2020.  A ruling is expected any time.  Oral arguments in Vazzo have not yet been scheduled.    

Legal outlook

“The Tallahassee City Council has shown much-needed courage and leadership in standing up for LGBTQ youth in the face of vicious attacks by Liberty Counsel and other hate-based groups that promote dangerous lies and misinformation about LGBTQ people,” said Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which provided legal support to the Florida cities defending their bans. “Contrary to the false messages of these groups, being LGBTQ is a natural part of the spectrum of human identity. All children deserve love and support, and the City of Tallahassee did the right thing in protecting minors in Tallahassee from this devastating practice.”  

For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect Campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to pass  legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, to assist states and local governments in defending these bans when they are challenged by anti-LGBT hate groups, and to bring lawsuits holding conversion therapists accountable for defrauding and harming patients.

Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth in the past 12 months, including UtahNorth Carolina, Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most recently, legislation was passed in Virginia – the first Southern state to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful practice.

According to the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to the dangerous practice of “Conversion Therapy,” which studies have linked to these youth being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Canadian Introduction of Nationwide Conversion Therapy Ban is Part of a Growing Global Movement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2020
Contact: Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365-1337

Canadian Introduction of Nationwide Conversion Therapy Ban is Part of a Growing Global Movement

OTTAWA, Ontario — Today, Canadian Minister of Justice David Lametti and Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger introduced legislation that would ban conversion therapy nationwide in Canada. Bill C-8, “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)”, would amend Canada’s criminal code to make it illegal for therapists or organizations to engage in conversion therapy.

“Canada’s bill is a milestone for LGBTQ human rights and will help to bring families back together with their LGBTQ children,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “Being subjected to conversion therapy drives many LGBTQ youth into hopelessness. A parent’s acceptance is make or break for an LGBTQ child’s future. Canada’s bill sends a powerful message that LGBTQ youth are born perfect.”

Globally, three countries – Brazil, Ecuador, and Malta – have already enacted nationwide bans. In the United States, twenty states and more than 70 localities have passed laws protecting minors from conversion therapy. In addition, survivors of conversion therapy have successfully sued their former therapists under state laws that prohibit consumer fraud.

“Like Canada, countries across the world are taking active steps to address the devastating harms caused by conversion therapy,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Other countries considering similar legislation include Chile, Mexico, and Germany, and grassroots movements to expose this abusive practice are growing in South Africa and many other African countries. This is now a global movement that is emerging as one of the most urgent and critical issues for LGBTQ people across the world.”

Last year, Outright International released a groundbreaking report showing that conversion therapy occurs across the world and documenting the severe trauma that it causes.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Virginia Becomes 20th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2020
Contact: Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365-1337

Virginia Becomes 20th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

With Governor’s signature, VA becomes the first Southern state to end the harmful practice

RICHMOND, Virginia — Yesterday Governor Ralph Northam signed a historic bill making Virginia the twentieth state to protect LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy, the harmful practice which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill, which passed both chambers of the VA legislature in February, will go into effect on July 1.

The Governor’s signature also makes Virginia the first state in the South to end the practice that has been widely condemned by every leading medical and mental health organization in this country.

Virginia joins 19 other states, the District of Columbia, and more than 60 municipalities that have adopted similar protections.

“Across the country, state legislatures are recognizing that the harm caused by conversion therapy is a public health crisis,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “Virginia is the twentieth state to pass a law protecting LGBT youth, and the first to do so in the South. As the leading national campaign working to end conversion therapy, Born Perfect will not rest until LGBT youth are protected in every state.”

“As a Virginia survivor who has been working to pass this bill for more than two years, I am grateful to our state legislators and Governor Northam for listening to survivors and their families,” said Adam Trimmer, a conversion therapy survivor and Born Perfect Virginia Ambassador. “No young person should be subjected to this abuse, and no family should be exploited by unethical therapists who lie to parents and cause life-threatening harm.”

“The campaign to end conversion therapy is by far the largest and fast-growing LGBT-related movement in this country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Since California passed the first law in 2012, the visibility of this issue has increased dramatically, and more and more survivors have come forward. Virginia is the first Southern state to pass a law, but it will not be the last.”

For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect Campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to support legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.

Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth in the past 12 months, including North Carolina, Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most recently, rules were adopted in the conservative state of Utah that protect LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy

According to an estimate from the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to the dangerous practice of “Conversion Therapy,” which studies have linked to these youth being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka Joins Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus & Special Guests to Discuss LGBTQ Youth Issues, Ending Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2020

Contact:
Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365-1337
Shawn Gaylord, Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus Executive Director
Shawn.Gaylord@mail.house.org / (202) 225-2305

Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka Joins Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus & Special Guests to Discuss LGBTQ Youth Issues, Ending Conversion Therapy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mathew Shurka, Co-Founder of the Born Perfect Campaign, joins the LGBTQ Equality Caucus in Washington, D.C., today to meet with members of Congress to discuss issues facing LGBTQ youth in America – including ending federal funding of the life-threatening practice of conversion therapy.

Shurka and the Caucus will be joined by special guests Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons and Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees, Co-Founders of the LOVELOUD Foundation, along with LOVELOUD Board member Carmen Carrera from season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“Over a period of five years, my parents paid more than thirty-five thousand dollars to licensed practitioners who fraudulently promised to cure my homosexuality,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “As a 16-year-old when I was first sent to conversion therapy, I trusted the professionals who treated me, and my parents trusted them as well. There was no one to protect my family or to make sure we understood that conversion therapy is a discredited practice that has no basis in medical science and will harm me for the rest of my life. I am grateful to be here today advocating with the Equality Caucus and my team at Born Perfect to ensure that other families do not go through the harm that my family and I suffered.”

Currently, 19 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 60 municipalities have adopted measures to protect LGBTQ youth from the practice that every leading medical and mental health organization in this country has rejected as ineffective and dangerous for minors.

“Conversion ‘therapy’ isn’t therapy at all – it’s a harmful, discredited and illegitimate practice that threatens the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people throughout the country,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair. “I’m proud to team up with such powerful activists and allies to raise awareness of this important issue and get my bill banning taxpayer-funded conversion ‘therapy’ brought to the House floor for a vote.”

“I was grateful to participate in today’s briefing to discuss our shared goal of ending conversion therapy across the country,” said Rep. Ted W. Lieu, Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Vice-Chair. “Conversion therapy is a fraudulent practice based on the prejudiced belief that someone can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity. One of the proudest moments of my career was authoring California’s statewide conversion therapy ban. And today, building support for and passing the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act could not be more important. I look forward to working with Mathew and Born Perfect, Representative Maloney, the survivors and advocates to end this scam and enact a federal ban.”

“LOVELOUD’s goal as both a festival and foundation is to empower LGBTQ+ youth and arm them with the tools to go back and create change in their own communities,” said Dan Reynolds, lead vocalist for Imagine Dragons and Co-Founder of LOVELOUD. “Another thing we’re learning, though, is that we also need to come together and do the hard work to make a difference in the long term. That’s why we’re in DC.” The Born Perfect campaign is a grantee of the LOVELOUD Foundation.

Reynolds has been an ally to the LGBTQ community and has used his position as a celebrity to advocate against the practice of conversion therapy. He is also the producer of the 2018 documentary “Believer,” which examines the intersection between LGBT people and the Mormon church. Reynolds, Glenn, and Carrera, in conjunction with the Equality Caucus, the LOVELOUD Foundation, Universal Music Group, and the Motion Picture Association, will host a special screening of “Believer” and a talkback later this evening.

“LOVELOUD began with the youth who came to us and shared their own incredible stories,” said Tyler Glenn, vocalist for Neon Trees and Co-Founder of LOVELOUD. “We’re all so excited for the opportunity to continue sharing those stories here in DC, and we’re grateful to the nonprofits who forward our mission and to everyone on the Hill who we’ll be meeting with.”

For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to support legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.

“LGBTQ+ youth who aren’t accepted in their families experience higher rates of depression, suicide, and drug abuse, yet conversion therapy is only banned in 19 states. That is unacceptable – we’re committed to changing this and we’re thankful to be working with legislators who also want to make sure all queer youth have a chance at the best life possible,” said Carmen Carrera, a contestant on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth, most recently the State of Utah in January. On Monday, the Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill that would protect youth from conversion therapy in that state. The Virginia bill, already approved by the Virginia Senate, now just needs reconciliation in both houses before heading to the Governor’s office. If signed, Virginia would become the 20th state to end the practice on minors.

According to an estimate from the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to conversion therapy, which studies have linked to these youths being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


Founded in 2008, the mission of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The Caucus, which is led by the seven openly LGBT members of Congress, is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. The Caucus Co-Chairs are David Cicilline (RI- 01), Angie Craig (MN-02), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Mark Takano (CA-41). https://lgbt-cicilline.house.gov/

Founded in 2017 by Dan Reynolds, the LOVELOUD Foundation, is a catalyst to bring communities and families together to help ignite the vital conversation about what it means to unconditionally love our LGBTQ+ youth. LOVELOUD offers hope to young people, letting them know they’re not alone and encouraging acceptance in the home and community. https://loveloudfest.com/foundation


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Utah Becomes 19th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2020
Contact: Christopher Vasquez, NCLR Communications Director
cvasquez@nclrights.org / (415) 365-1337

Utah Becomes 19th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

Historic new rule adopted by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing goes into effect today

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Today the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing adopted statewide rules protecting LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy, the harmful practice which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Utah Governor Gary Herbert directed the Division to develop the rules last year after proposed legislation to address the issue narrowly failed to pass the Utah Legislature.

Utah joins 18 other states, the District of Columbia, and more than 60 municipalities that have adopted similar protections.

Every leading medical and mental health organization in this country has rejected conversion therapy as ineffective and dangerous for minors.

“Once again, Utah has shown that LGBTQ advocates and political conservatives can work together to address the harms caused by discrimination and bias,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “Utah’s rule protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy is a milestone in our nation’s growing recognition that LGBTQ youth are part of every community, and that every child is born perfect.  We are grateful to Equality Utah for their unwavering commitment to this issue and to Governor Herbert for his leadership.”

“Utah’s emergence as the most conservative state to address this issue shows how rapidly attitudes toward LGBTQ youth are changing in every part of this country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter. “No matter what one’s political or religious affiliation may be, more and more people are recognizing that public officials have a responsibility to protect vulnerable youth from this life-threatening harm.”

To celebrate the adoption of the rule, conversion therapy survivors from around the state gathered at the state capitol in Salt Lake City with Equality Utah, the Utah Psychological Association, and State Representative Craig Hall – sponsor of H.B. 399 in 2019 that the new rules are nearly identical to as adopted.

Troy Williams, executive director of EQUALITY UTAH stated: “Every reputable science-based organization in the country recognizes that conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. It exacerbates depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. We are grateful to Governor Herbert and the Board of Psychologists for acting swiftly on behalf of LGBTQ youth.”

For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect Campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to support legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. Born Perfect has partnered with the Trevor Project 50 Bills 50 States campaign, the Human Rights Campaign, and Equality Utah, along with local advocates in support of these vital protections in Utah.

Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth in recent months, including North Carolina, Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The adoption of these new rules in Utah comes just a day after the Virginia Senate approved S.B. 245, which would protect youth from conversion therapy in that state. The Virginia bill now heads to the Virginia House of Delegates.

According to an estimate from the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to the dangerous practice of “Conversion Therapy,” which studies have linked to these youth being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

NCLR’s Born Perfect Hails North Carolina Order Protecting LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2019
Contact: Shannon Minter – 415-624-6071; Email sminter@nclrights.org

RALEIGH, N.C. — Today, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order to protect vulnerable young people from conversion therapy, which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The order directs the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit payment for conversion therapy for minors by any health care provider receiving state or federal funds.

“What leaders do matters,” said Mathew Shurka, Born Perfect Co-founder and conversion therapy survivor.  “Governor Cooper’s executive order sends a clear message that he and his administration will protect LGBTQ youth and ensure that no taxpayer money is spent on this life-threatening practice, which has been condemned by every leading professional medical and mental health organization. Now more than ever, LGBTQ children need to hear that they are born perfect.”

“Thanks to Governor Cooper’s leadership, North Carolina is now the first state in the South to take statewide action to protect youth from conversion therapy,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina said: “This year our campaign ignited a conversation among North Carolinians about the importance of protecting our kids from ‘conversion therapy.’ It’s gratifying to see Governor Cooper take this critical step in the right direction. No child should be told that they must change their sexual orientation or gender identity; we’re grateful that Governor Cooper agrees. We are committed to ending this debunked practice and will work for statewide protections.”

Allison Scott, Director of Policy & Programs at the Campaign for Southern Equality, added:  “Governor Cooper’s order will create a safer North Carolina for LGBTQ youth. Young LGBTQ people who endure ‘conversion therapy’ are at an immensely higher risk for depression and suicide than those whose identities are  affirmed, a primary reason that we must do all we can to end this dangerous pseudoscience. As we continue our campaign to end conversion therapy once and for all, we’re looking forward to working across North Carolina to share a message of love and affirmation. We have the momentum, and now it’s time to amplify the voices of North Carolinians everywhere who are taking action to protect our youth.”

The Born Perfect campaign to end conversion therapy was founded by NCLR in 2014 to bring survivors and legal experts together to end this dangerous practice.  Born Perfect has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign and state equality groups across the nation to pass state and local legislation protecting youth from conversion therapy.  Mathew Shurka, Born Perfect Co-Founder and Chief Strategist, has shared his story as a survivor with legislators and policy makers across the country.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.