Last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals disregarded a mountain of evidence that so-called “conversion therapy” is harmful to minors. The panel held that the First Amendment protects licensed practitioners and that they are allowed to conduct conversion efforts. These counselors falsely claim to be able to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
This ruling contradicted past federal cases, and it reinforced damaging myths about conversion therapy.
Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, Florida, asked the full Eleventh Circuit to overrule the panel’s outlier decision. Born Perfect submitted a friend-of-the-court brief supporting that request, along with the Florida Psychological Association, the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Trevor Project, and national suicide prevention organizations.
Born Perfect Co-Founder and Chief Strategist Mathew Shurka said: “So-called conversion therapy has harmed hundreds of thousands of Americans, leaving LGBTQ youth and their families with a lifetime of pain.”
“There is tremendous evidence that conversion therapy is dangerous and has no place in our society,” said Shurka. “With the support of every major medical and mental health association, we feel an urgency to make sure that every parent knows these deadly practices have no scientific credibility –and that every child deserves love and support.”
Martha Conley – mother of conversion-therapy survivor and author Garrard Conley – told Floridians about the destruction caused to her family by conversion therapists.
Conversion therapy harms families
In an op-ed in The Miami Herald, Conley wrote:
My husband and I pressured Garrard to change his sexual orientation. At the time, we didn’t know about the scientific consensus that no therapy can change a child from gay to straight. Knowing now what I did not know then — that many young people who experience conversion therapy do not survive it — I am grateful every day that my son is alive. No decision I have ever made will haunt me more, which is why I am encouraged that officials in Palm Beach County and Boca Raton, joined by Miami and dozens of other localities across the country, are asking a federal court of appeals to reverse an unprecedented decision upholding this deadly practice.
Born Perfect’s brief explains that the panel decision disregarded a “litany of studies, position papers from medical organizations, and other evidence from mental health professionals and community members demonstrating that conversion therapy is harmful to children, including by increasing the risk of suicidality.”
Born Perfect is the leading campaign to end conversion therapy. We are survivors, lawyers, and policy experts working together to protect LGBTQ+ people nationally and around the globe. Born Perfect is a program of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).