Metro Weekly

Florida gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham calls for end to conversion therapy

Former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee adopts nondiscrimination protections as part of her platform

Gwen Graham – Photo: Facebook.

A Democrat running to be Florida’s next governor is calling on the Florida legislature to pass a ban prohibiting licensed counselors and therapists from subjecting minors to so-called “conversion therapy.”

Gwen Graham, a former congresswoman from the Tallahassee area, and the daughter of former governor and senator Bob Graham, says Florida needs a statewide ban on attempts to force LGBTQ-identifying youth to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, reports FloridaPolitics.com.

“Conversion therapy is junk science. It’s hurtful and cruel, and there is no place for it in Florida,” Graham said in a statement. “We need to welcome and love our young people for who they are. Period. Nine states and in 15 municipalities in Florida have banned this horrible practice, and it’s time for it to be outlawed by the whole state.”

Lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate have previously introduced bills to prohibit conversion therapy from being used on minors, but have failed to gain the support of Republican leaders. As a result, all bills banning conversion therapy have died in committee, forcing individual municipalities to take their own actions. 

Among the 15 cities in Florida that ban conversion therapy are Miami, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Wilton Manors, Lake Worth, Key West, Wellington, Gainesville, and Tampa.  Palm Beach and Broward counties, in the southeastern part of the state, also have county-wide bans in place.

Graham called for the ban on conversion therapy as part of rolling out her platform on LGBTQ rights ahead of the Aug. 28 primary, where she faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and businessman Chris King.

Part of Graham’s platform includes a vow to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would extend nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Floridians. She has also promised to sign an executive order providing similar protections for LGBTQ state employees.

During her time in Congress, Graham earned a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, sponsored the Equality Act — which is essentially the federal version of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, and announced her support for marriage equality.

“Everyone, no matter who they love or how they identify, should feel safe and respected in our state. This month, we celebrate the progress we have made to make that a reality for all Floridians,” Graham said in a statement.

“I am proud to live in a state with vibrant LGBTQ communities from Key West to Pensacola,” she added. “LGBTQ Floridians have never given up in their fight to make Florida a more equal and welcoming home for everyone, and I am proud to stand with them.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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