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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami ) – Broward County commissioners voted unanimously to ban conversion therapy in the county.
They heard from a vast majority of speakers Tuesday who said this type of therapy has no place here.
Justin Flippen is the Vice Mayor of Wilton Manors.
“I’m very proud of Broward County’s unanimous vote on this issue,” Flippen said.
He’s also a survivor of conversion therapy, which tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“That’s what was explained to me, that because I was a child and had my parents divorce at a young age, that somehow predisposed me to being gay,” he explained. “Which even saying it out loud makes no sense to me.”
Flippen spoke before the Broward County Commission Tuesday as commissioners voted to ban conversion therapy for minors by licensed therapists, meaning no one can force children to go to professional therapists who try to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Flippen said conversion therapy can be enormously destructive.
“Young people are exposed to depression,” he said. “Some homes are unaccepting which leads to LGBT homelessness and unfortunately, some suicides.”
The ban is a welcomed move from a Broward County mother and her 10-year-old daughter who came out as transgender last year.
“I felt like I was a girl,” she said, “and everyone saw me as a boy.”
We’re not identifying the child or her mom due to concerns about their safety.
Her mom remembered the moment her daughter came out.
“He, said, ‘I need to tell you something.’ I was like, ‘okay.’ I say he but I know that she’s always been a she,'” the mother explained. “(He) said, ‘I’m a girl, I’ve always been a girl, I don’t want to lie anymore and I need to tell the truth.'”
That moment changed her daughter’s life.
“What’s your life like now,” CBS 4’s Ted Scouten asked the 10-year-old.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said with a big smile, “seeing that from one little thing can change everything.”
They’re both thrilled to learn that Broward County commissioners passed a new ordinance.
It prohibits conversion therapy on minors, meaning no one can force children to go to professional therapists attempting to change their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“I feel so blessed we’re in Broward County,” said the mother, “I think we’re just so lucky. This is going to save lives.”
Like in Broward County, conversion therapy has been banned in a growing number of cities and states around the country citing studies that say it’s ineffective and potentially dangerous.
Opponents of the ordinance call it an attack on religion and more.
“Make no mistake what this issue is about,” said Pastor Bernie Diaz from Christ Community Church, “it’s about civil rights,its about religious freedom, this ordinance would be another indication of anti-faith bias,” he said.
Flippen has a different opinion.
“These types of ordinances demonstrate that there are sensible policy makers among us that have no problem with making sure our youth are just that, welcomed, valued and protected,” he said.
The ban does not apply to adults who are seeking conversion therapy on their own. It also does not apply to children who are being counseled at church.