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City commissioners considering banning conversion therapy in Tallahassee

Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 17:27:35-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — At least 22 Florida cities have banned conversion therapy for minors and now Tallahassee is considering doing the same.

It's a controversial topic that has people on both sides of the argument fighting.

Those supporting the conversion therapy ban says the practice does more harm than good. But those against the ban says it'll strip away a parent's right.

Conversion therapy. For decades, people have disagreed over whether it works or not.

"Conversion therapy is nothing more than a deadly, stigmatized, religious thought," said Reverend Joe Parramore, who supports the conversion therapy ban. "An ideology that inflicts harm on our young people."

Reverend Joe Parramore experienced it firsthand during seminary school.

"In order to maintain my employment, I had to pray the gay away," Parramore explained. "There was a series of attempted exorcisms to try to rid me of the spirit of homosexuality."

Reverend Parramore says he's helped many people still dealing with their own conversion therapy experiences.

"Statistically, a young adult put through that type of torture and trauma is eight times more likely to commit suicide," said Parramore.

Organizations like the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics, are now advising against the practice.

Twenty-two cities and counties in Florida have done away with allowing licensed professionals to even perform conversion therapy. But that doesn't mean everyone is in favor of the ban.

"I feel like the ban will actually take away parental rights," said Bev Kilmer. "I think parents have every right to raise their children in the way they should."

Bev Kilmer says she plans to showcase people who have proudly gone through conversion therapy, to appeal to commissioners.

"She'll talk about her life as a lesbian and how she did turn and she realized she never wanted to go down that path in the first place," said Kilmer.

A fight that both sides will continue at the next commission meeting. That meeting is Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The commission is could vote on the ban Wednesday or move to continue the conversation at the next meeting. The ban will still allow mental health providers to express their views and even suggest more guidance from religious leaders.