Stop LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy in Orange County!

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In a county so heavily populated with LGBTQ+ individuals it has come as a shock that it is still legal for so-called ‘conversion therapy’ to exist and be utilized on Orange County residents. For those unaware of what this means, conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. In addition, it has been utilized on members of our transgender community to try to change their gender identity. Not only is this practice outright despicable but it poses great and immeasurable harm to its victims, is fraudulent and ultimately dangerous and sometimes fatal.

Conversion therapy focuses heavily on the youth of our community due to their vulnerability and potential lack of control due to parental incorporation. This focus has been tragically proven to lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, self-harm and even suicide (a rising problem in the LGBTQ+ community). Research shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were more than eight times more likely to report having attempted suicide, more than five times more likely to report high levels of depression, and more than three times more likely to use illegal drugs compared with their peers. Now factor into this the potential to be sent away for conversion therapy and this only compounds those statistics.

No reputable research has found that conversion therapy can be effective. So-called reparative therapy practices have been debunked by mainstream medical and mental health organizations - including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Medical and Psychiatric Associations on Conversion Therapy

  • American Psychological Association “advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”
  • The American Psychiatric Association “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.”
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated: “Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”
  • The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, has stated that these practices “lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”
  • World Psychiatric Association “considers same-sex attraction, orientation, and behavior as normal variants of human sexuality... It acknowledges the lack of scientific efficacy of treatments that attempt to change sexual orientation and highlights the harm and adverse effects of such ‘therapies.”

Local organizations focused on the LGBTQ+ community have also stood in opposition of this dangerous practice. Leaders at Equality Florida, One Orlando Alliance, Orlando Youth Alliance and Zebra Coalition have spoken out against conversion therapy. These organizations are the cornerstone of the LGBTQ+ community and have a large focus on supporting the health and well-being of the youth of that community. I have asked they be a part of this petition to lend their voice to my own and to our collective ask to end conversion therapy.

This is our fight.  Orange County was once home to the now-defunct Exodus International, which managed a worldwide network of conversion therapy practices before its president renounced conversion therapy as harmful and ineffective. Former leaders from Exodus International now stand with us in calling for the ban. 

With Orlando and the surrounding cities responding in a ‘love wins’ mentality I am charging each of you to sign this petition to end this unsafe and dangerous practice in Orange County.  This is our opportunity to make a small change in our backyard that could impact the bigger picture for conversion therapy bans in other counties and across the state. We must ask our county officials to listen, step up to our collective voice, and make the motion to end this practice of conversion therapy. We must end the risk to minors of having conversion therapy conducted on them. Our LGBTQ+ youth are born perfect, and they should not be forced into ‘therapy’ that is unfounded, debunked, and dangerous. Let’s end this today and put more love into Orange County! 

In an effort to propel this petition, my close friend Eric Rollings is taking a lead on coordination of these efforts that may result from our collective voice in this ban to end conversion therapy in Orange County. He may be reached at Eric@MainframeRE.com and 407-256-2470.

In solidarity, 

Andrew Chang