Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Tampa

Tampa will ask federal appeals court to reinstate ban on conversion therapy

City attorneys intend to appeal a U.S. district judge’s ruling last month overturning Tampa’s ban of a treatment that has been deemed harmful and ineffective.
Tampa City Hall. [Times]
Tampa City Hall. [Times]
Published Nov. 2, 2019

TAMPA — The city of Tampa isn’t ready to give up trying to outlaw so-called conversion therapy, a controversial and discredited treatment promoted by some religious groups as a way to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

City attorneys on Friday filed a notice of appeal in federal court, a first step toward asking an appellate court to overturn a U.S. district judge’s decision on Oct. 4 to strike down a citywide ban of the practice.

RELATED: Tampa’s ban on conversion therapy struck down by federal judge

The city now has 45 days to file its challenge, which will be considered by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. City Attorney Gina Grimes declined to discuss the legal grounds on which the city will appeal, saying only that “we disagree with the court’s opinion.”

Tampa’s 2017 ban was intended to protect young people from the practice, typically used on children who come out as gay or who identify as a gender different from the one assigned to them at birth.

U.S. District Judge William Jung. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]

But U.S. District Judge William Jung overturned the ban on Oct. 4 saying that it conflicts with a patient’s right to privacy and a parent’s right to choose health care for their children. He said state medical boards that oversee the licensing of mental health professionals already serve as a check on any malpractice.

Jung also cited a 2009 American Psychological Association Task Force report that he said concluded that no study has come up with a clear picture of whether the practice produces either beneficial or harmful outcomes.

That interpretation was disputed by Clinton W. Anderson, interim executive director of the association, who said in a letter to the Tampa Bay Times that the report’s conclusion was that “there was insufficient scientific evidence to conclude that sexual orientation change efforts are effective.”

“Conversion therapy, as it is commonly called, could in fact pose harm, particularly to children and adolescents, as it may lead to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and substance use disorders,” Anderson wrote.

RELATED: Tampa’s ban on ‘conversion therapy’ has its day in court

The legal challenge to Tampa’s ban was filed by Liberty Counsel, a Christian evangelical legal advocacy group in Orlando. It sued in December 2017 on behalf of two licensed therapists, one of whom was later dismissed from the case because he did not practice in Florida. In September, a court ruled against the organization’s bid to overturn a statewide ban in Maryland.

The group has also represented Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who made headlines in 2015 after refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. The Liberty Counsel advocates for “anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Conversion therapy has been deemed ineffective by mental health experts and broadly derided as potentially harmful. In some cases, it has been reinforced with electric shock therapy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the National Education Association, the National Association of School Psychologists and the Child Welfare League of America are among the organizations that have backed laws to protect children from the practice that some reports suggest increases the risk of suicide.

Almost 20 states have enacted restrictions of the practice.

RELATED STORY: Lawsuit attempts to end conversion therapy ban in Tampa

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. After nearly four decades of operating a restaurant on Fourth Avenue in Ybor City, Cephas Gilbert has a new location. He now runs a juice hut inside Tequilas Ybor in Tampa.
  2. Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister has filed for re-election. He's held a kickoff and made public appearances, and he’s heavily courted Democrats in a county the Republican sheriff acknowledges is trending Democratic. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
  3. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  4. Brian Davison is chief executive officer of Equialt, which bought this Safety Harbor home in a tax deed sale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contends in a new lawsuit that EquiAlt is a Ponzi scheme, and Davison has diverted investor funds for his own lavish personal spending. Times (2015)
  5. Suzi Goodhope of Havana, Fla., and Shiraz, an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, are helping in the search for an African American cemetery forgotten somewhere on the grounds of MacDill Air Force Base. Goodhope trains human-remains detection dogs in Havana, Fla.
  6. A courthouse regular snapped this image of a llama, named Thaddeus, as the animal strode past the Hillsborough County courthouse Monday. The llama's visit to Tampa became a social media sensation.
  7. Outback Steakhouse at 4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd. near International Plaza and Bay Street. [Monique Welch | Times]
  8. Michael Keetley, a former ice cream truck driver accused of shooting a group of men in 2010 in Ruskin, sits in court during his trial.
  9. Express Parcel Service says is plans to shut down its operations at the Amazon distribution station at 9900 18th Street N in St. Petersburg, as well as in Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers and Palmetto. (Google street view)
  10. Luis Espel, 22, uses the Cass Street bike lane to commute to work in Tampa. Times (2019)
  11. Justin Callahan, 34, from St. Pete, looks out to the water as the sunrises on a crips morning at North Shore Park on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement