Tampa Judge Strikes Down City’s Ban On Counseling For Minors With Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction


As leftists in authority continue their legal onslaught against compassionate care and therapy for individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, a major victory was handed down in Tampa, Florida.

In a ruling issued last week that will likely reverberate throughout courts in other states, Life Site reports that a federal judge “permanently struck down a city ordinance that prohibited licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy” to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.”

In his ruling, Hon. William F. Jung determined that the city of Tampa had overstepped its bounds in its controversial regulations that prohibited therapy by licensed practitioners which falls squarely under the jurisdiction of the state.

“Nothing is more intimate, more private, and more sensitive than a growing young man or woman talking to a mental health therapist about sex, gender, preferences, and conflicting feelings,” Judge Jung said. “The Ordinance inserts the City’s code enforcers into the middle of this sensitive, intense and private moment. But this moment is already governed by Florida’s very broad rights of privacy, something the Ordinance ignores …The Florida Constitution’s privacy amendment suggests that government should stay out of the therapy room. The Tampa Ordinance does not address this constitutional issue, and in doing so the City attempts to occupy a very private space, contrary to a strong statewide policy.” 

“The Ordinance eliminates this long-standing parental right without discussion or exception — Florida already occupied this ground,” the judge continued. “Parental rights, which the Florida Supreme Court has noted are fundamental and protected by the state constitution, are reduced or increased within Hillsborough County, Florida, depending on whether one steps across the Tampa city line or not.”

“With due respect for the citizen legislators on the Tampa City Council, none are skilled in mental health issues, nor are any of the City’s code enforcement personnel,” Yung stated. “In contrast, the Florida Department of Health, with its skilled adjudicatory bodies, is equipped to address this dynamic area of psychotherapy.”

Judge Jung also offered a long list of points agreed upon by the city’s own experts in the field that utterly decimates the leftist rationale behind so-called “conversion therapy” bans, including:

  • Minors can be gender fluid and may change or revert gender identity. 

  • Gender dysphoria during childhood does not inevitably continue into adulthood. 

  • Formal epidemiologic studies on gender dysphoria in children, adolescents, and adults are lacking.

  • One Tampa expert testified there is not a consensus regarding the best practices with prepubertal gender nonconforming children. 

  • A second Tampa expert testified consensus does not exist regarding best practices with prepubertal gender nonconforming children, but a trend toward a consensus exists. 

  • Emphasizing to parents the importance of allowing their child the freedom to return to a gender identity that aligns with sex assigned at birth or another gender identity at any point cannot be overstated. 

  • One cannot quantify or put a percentage on the increased risk from conversion therapy, as compared to other therapy. 

  • Scientific estimates of the efficacy of conversion therapy are essentially nonexistent because of the difficulties of obtaining samples following individuals after they exit therapy, defining success, and obtaining objective reassessment. 

  • Based on a comprehensive review of this work, the American Psychological Association 2009 SOCE (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts) Task Force concluded that no study to date has demonstrated adequate scientific rigor to provide a clear picture of the prevalence or frequency of either beneficial or harmful SOCE outcomes. More recent studies claiming benefits and/or harm have done little to ameliorate this concern. 

  • No known study to date has drawn from a representative sample of sufficient size to draw conclusions about the experience of those who have attempted SOCE. 

  • No known study (looking at same 2014 article) has provided a comprehensive assessment of basic demographic information, psychosocial well being, and religiosity, which would be required to understand the effectiveness, benefits and/or harm caused by SOCE. 

  • Although research on adult populations has documented harmful effects of SOCE, no scientific research studies have examined SOCE among

  • With extraordinarily well-trained counseling “in a hypothetically perfect
    world” it may be an appropriate course of action for a counselor to aid a gender-dysphoric child who wants to return to biological gender of birth. There is a lack of published research on efforts to change gender identity among childhood and adolescents. 

  • As of October 2015, no research demonstrating the harms of conversion therapy with gender minority youth has been published. In 2018, an article was published on youth, but causal claims could not be made from that 2018 report. 

“Local governments do not have authority to regulate counseling because it is the prerogative of the state,” reads a statement from Liberty Counsel who brought forth the suit on behalf of marriage and family therapist Robert Vazzo and his minor clients and the Christian ministry New Hearts Outreach.

Matthew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, predicted that the ruling will “gut every counseling ban in Florida and leave no room to redraft them.”

The judge’s order, Staver continued, “shreds the arguments to justify these bans and will provide a strong basis for First Amendment challenges to the statewide bans.”

This landmark ruling may very well be just the foothold needed for First Amendment challenges to current statewide and other local bans to spread through the nation, but let’s not forget that nearly every Democrat presidential hopeful has promised a federal ban on anything they deem to be “conversion therapy” if elected. 

The fight is by no means over.

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