LGBT

Federal Circuit Court Rules Bans on LGBT Conversion Therapy for Minors Unconstitutional

A court split between Florida and California may mean an eventual Supreme Court decision.

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Attempting to "cure" a gay or transgender minor via conversion therapy counts as protected First Amendment speech and can't simply be banned by ordinances, a federal appeals court ruled today.

LGBT activists and psychological experts have been targeting conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice that harms children for years. Some states have begun banning the treatment, starting with New Jersey and California in 2013. Now, it's forbidden in 20 states, and several cities and counties have passed their own laws against it.

Florida doesn't ban conversion therapy statewide, but the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County passed ordinances in 2017 that banned licensed professionals from treating minors with "any counseling, practice or treatment performed with the goal of changing an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expression, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender or sex."

Two therapists sued, arguing that the therapy they provided is voluntary, offered to clients who wish to reduce their attraction to individuals of the same sex or to reduce feelings of being the wrong gender. They claimed that the therapy they were providing consisted entirely of speech, and is therefore protected by the First Amendment.

In a 47-page decision for Otto v. City of Boca Raton, a circuit panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled, 2-1, that this conversion therapy is, indeed, protected speech under the First Amendment.

Judge Britt C. Grant wrote the decision, joined by Judge Barbara Lagoa. Grant pointed out:

The Supreme Court has consistently rejected attempts to set aside the dangers of content-based speech regulation in professional settings: "As with other kinds of speech, regulating the content of professionals' speech 'pose[s] the inherent risk that the Government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information.'"

They also warn that the court cannot simply allow government to ban speech by reclassifying it as "conduct." They add, "Forbidding the government from choosing favored and disfavored messages is at the core of the First Amendment's free-speech guarantee."

Further on, the judges warn:

What the governments call a "medical procedure" consists—entirely— of words. As the district court itself recognized, plaintiffs' therapy "is not just carried out in part through speech: the treatment provided by Drs. Otto and Hamilton is entirely speech." If [sexual orientation change effort therapy] is conduct, the same could be said of teaching or protesting—both are activities, after all. Debating? Also an activity. Book clubs? Same answer.

So, the judges ruled in favor of the therapists, reversing a previous ruling and ordering a preliminary injunction blocking it. It's not because they support conversion therapy. (And let's be clear here: Conversion therapy is a cruel scam unsupported by research.) Instead, the judges warn in their conclusion:

This decision allows speech that many find concerning—even dangerous. But consider the alternative. If the speech restrictions in these ordinances can stand, then so can their inverse. Local communities could prevent therapists from validating a client's same-sex attractions if the city council deemed that message harmful. And the same goes for gender transition—counseling supporting a client's gender identification could be banned.

Indeed, this is actually happening in some states. Lawmakers in several states, including Florida, have considered bills to forbid medical professionals from providing treatments to trans minors and fine doctors (and even threaten them with prison) for providing hormone therapies or surgical treatment. These laws actually fall more on outlawing conduct rather than simple speech, but in both cases, each side is attempting to use government power and political influence to control and outlaw therapeutic treatments because they object to it.

The ruling also creates a circuit court split. In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that California's law banning conversion therapy for minors did not violate the First Amendment. That court accepted the argument that the state was regulating conduct, not speech, and therefore subjected the law to a lower level of scrutiny than the 11th Circuit. And so this debate over whether conversion therapy is a form of protected speech may ultimately end up before the Supreme Court.

NEXT: Judges Are Not Impressed by Rudy Giuliani's Evidence of 'Widespread Nationwide Voter Fraud'

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  1. First they control speech and move on from there.

    1. No, grasshopper; first they controlled the guns, then they moved on to speech, then they moved on to what kind and where you can get health insurance, then they moved on to whether you can go outside or not., and how you must dress if you do go outside.
      Next is the types of electricity you are allowed to use, if you are allowed to have a car, and if you can post on (anti) social media.

      The damn frog is well and truly boiled.

      Welcome to the revolution.

      1. Next is the types of electricity you are allowed to use

        Hole theory is just a conceptual framework useful for thinking about semi-conductors – its not actually a different type of electricity.

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  2. LGBT activists and psychological experts have been targeting conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice that harms children for years.

    As compared to totally harmless and inconsequential things like hormone treatments, puberty blockers, and irreversible surgeries.

    1. Hey, 11-year-olds are fully capable of knowing what they want to be for the rest of their lives and should be allowed to cut off whatever they want…say people who have never met an 11-year-old.

      1. Say people who should not be allowed within 1,000 feet of an 11 year old

        1. Usually it’s their mothers, all hopped up on fresh woke and Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

  3. Boca Raton and Palm Beach County passed ordinances in 2017 that banned licensed professionals from treating minors with “any counseling, practice or treatment performed with the goal of changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expression, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender or sex.”

    ‘ . . . including, BUT NOT limited to . . . ‘
    So affirming transgender desires would also be illegal?

    1. No.

      . . . including, but not limited to, efforts to change . . . , gender identity,

      So affirmation is not illegal. *Disaffirmation* would be illegal. The law is silent on whether or not affirmation is mandatory though.

  4. “We have no choice but to stack the Supreme Court, to protect the children” – Democrats pandering to LGBT

    1. ^lol.. It’s like your a real true fortune teller or something.

  5. So much for medical treatments being between people and their doctors. And I’m not sure how “unsupported by the evidence” it is that you can’t try to make a boy comfortable with being a boy, or a girl comfortable with being a girl.

    1. Gay conversion therapy seems more questionable, but if people want to give it a shot that’s their deal.
      I think trying to normalize gender dysphoria like being gay has been (and I think it’s a good thing there) is not a great idea. If an adult person decides that that’s how it is and how they are going to be, I have no problem with that. But unlike being gay, it is actually a disorder. If you feel like you are in the wrong body, modifying your body is never going to completely fix that. Seems to me that at the very least it’s worth attempting to learn to be comfortable with your actual biological condition. Especially for children.

      1. Douglas Murray has a chapter on this subject in his book. He does a really good job of covering the issue, and even showed up to a film screening by a gay conversion group for journalistic research. He was recognized by someone in the crowed who seemed to think he was there to get help for himself.

        1. I just got the book. Looking forward to reading it.

      2. Doctors are very guilty. They clearly admit that plastic surgery is not a valid treatment for body dysmorphic syndrome, but are all in with the surgery for gender dysphoria. Such physicians need their licenses revoked.

  6. “But I’m a Cheerleader” is a good movie about this issue.

    1. “Saved!” was better.

      1. Was it as good as: That’s Not My Ass! ?

    2. Not really. There are many actual studies currently about how the activist doctor community is pushing drugs before any form of actual therapy that wasn’t towards convincing kids they were trans. There are actual clusters of trans communities and coming out in school that wouldn’t exist if it was merely genetic. The regret rate for trans has increased while suicide rates have heald steady in the community. It is a mental issue being treated with hormones and biological changes instead of treating underlying issues.

      We have other examples of dysmorphia like abkeism, where people amputate their own appendages or wish they were crippled. It is the same plane as transgenderism.

      Transgenderism is a paradox. It is an idea that there are fluid genders treated by pretending to be a static gender. It makes no sense.

      1. I really don’t know what to make of the conflict between transgenderism and gender-fluid. The transgender idea seems to be a kind of biological essentialism. Which is totally at odds with the gender-fluid, social-constructionism thing.

        1. You are assigning far too much credit to the grey matter of the individuals ‘splaining such things.

        2. If sex and gender aren’t the same thing, why does gender change involve sex characteristics?

      2. What about wishing to be a dolphin?

        1. I need claspers and flukes, now!

  7. They should be banning stuffing pre-teens with hormones to make them ‘trans’ the nanosecond they don’t immediately fit into a set range of stereotypical ‘gender’ behaviors.

    1. Yeah, but how else will suburban munchie moms be able to get their “stunning and brave” dopamine hits from their idiot friends on social media?

      1. Yep. No fashion accessory for the progressive white suburban mom quite like a trans pre-teen. Almost makes up for white privilege.

  8. Ban “Conversion Therapy”? But wouldn’t that put the entire LGBT outfit out of business all together? I mean really; who can deny that the LGBT hasn’t been preaching “Conversion Therapy” for over a Decade now on every lefty-rag ever published??

    1. I’m not sure what you mean. Are they trying to make everyone gay?

      1. No; of course not — bribing gay identity with legal and social ‘entitlements’ as well as a national podium of stardom certainly couldn’t be any form of “trying to make”…. Just reference the last election and it’s thousands of *free-stuff* promises.

        I’m sure the “Conversion Therapy” in this article is referencing legal and social ‘entitlement’ to be straight as well as a national podium of stardom. PROUD to be straight!!! Let’s start the [WE] mob!

        1. What free stuff are we getting, again?

          What’s “social entitlement”? Are you worried that heterosexuals are being oppressed?

          1. “oppressed” — Awe; the wailing cries of spoiled little children that think the world *owes* them something they haven’t *earned*. The demand (by law for the ‘special’ people) for everyone to respect them without lifting a finger to *earn* it; the same crowd that postures itself on *STEALING*. Ya; I can play the spoiled brats temper tantrum for heterosexuals just easy as can be.

            I went to a dike club to hit on girls and guess what; I was ridiculed, beaten pushed out. Parents grounded me at 12 for being heterosexual. Teachers pushed me aside and called me a pervert. There’s literally countless YouTube, TV and movie narratives of dikes calling men stupid, chauvinistic, perverts, supremacists, pigs. Oh no; heaven forbid anyone see any evil oppression of heterosexuals. How about the solemn ridicule straight men put up with from their angry feminist wife’s or just any feminist female within speaking distance. And what do they get in return for all the public ridicule? A big FAT alimony bill. Oh but of course that’s not oppressive; that’s just restitution for being a heterosexual racist pervert.

            As if “oppressed” outside the scope of law had any business being law. Instead of just being who we are and accepting other’s are who they are the left will gang-up like a MOB OF HOOLIGANS and throw a temper tantrum of “Oh; pity me” – The [WE] mob must get lawful-entitlement at the demise of everyone else.

            Behind every spoiled brat is an enabler – In this situation it’s Gov-Guns and Socialist Policy. Neither of which has-ever and never-will yield a civilized or peaceful society but yields exactly the opposite.

            1. Hey I’ve got the perfect solution — Why doesn’t the Democrats start the worlds very first ever “pity me” Olympics??? Then instead of getting awarded 3rd Party Gov-Guns to go pick on “those” people the most pathetic among-st you can get a big trophy and feel special all over again.

      2. Sort of.
        The whole “born that way” bit is obvious nonsense, and despite decades of implying, and the occasional breathy article, no biological/genetic factors have ever been found.

        Human sexuality is incredibly fluid and cultural and social factors play a huge part in encouraging certain sexual behaviors.

        1. “no biological/genetic factors have ever been found.”

          Plenty of science exists.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation

          I wonder why it’s relevant to anything. If it’s not biological… then what? You get to force gay people to… do what?

          1. lmao…. “You get to force gay people to… do what?” — oh the ironic projection is amazzzzzzzzzzzing….. Lefties make the word ‘narcissistic’ look moderate.

            Of course there isn’t social pressure to treat butt-pokers as ‘special’ and of course no one got forced to bake a butt-pokers cake and of course no one was forced to change marriage laws (conceptual of offspring family) and of course no one ever pushed religion into force-ably accepting a new belief by law…

            NO NEVER!!!!! /s
            Why can’t you butt-pokers just be happy poking butts???? Everyone else has do deal with other peoples disgusted looks of them and various denials of service; what makes butt-pokers so d*mn special????

          2. Identity politics = Those poor victimized unfortunate souls.

            Sell your individual soul to a sexist, racist, wealth-class [WE] mob and create laws to ‘entitle’ and ‘enrich’ yourselves at the expense of everyone else’s enslavement.

            Slavery and Robbery; what the left is all about these days.

          3. That was a whole page of theories and possible correlates, Tony. Hardly evidence of anything.
            No matter how you try to shape it, they still haven’t found a biological or genetic factor that causes homosexual behavior.

            1. So answer my question. What difference does that make to you?

  9. Speech between an authority figure like a doctor and a minor patient is certainly NOT the essence of free speech. Or else grooming young girls would be legal.

    1. Am I missing sarcasm here? Grooming a minor isn’t protected by free speech

      1. Or rather it isn’t strictly a speech issue. Whereas conversion therapy is.

        1. Is conversion therapy any better than seduction of a minor?

          1. Wtf? yes.. Talking is better than statutory rape.

          2. Any talk that doesn’t end with the kid on the business end of an adults penis, is preferable to one which does.

  10. So, how about abortions conducted entirely by speech?

  11. Conversion therapy now includes things like suggesting that a preteen should wait before considering taking hormones. Or even simply stating the downsides of it. Because medical science that weighs the pros and cons before making a life altering decision is problematic.

    1. That’s not therapy. Therapy has a goal of conversion.

      1. You can’t convert a boy who thinks he is a woman back into a boy, because he is already a boy. But you can advise that taking female hormones won’t solve all of his problems and will likely only lead to more problems.

  12. ” Lawmakers in several states, including Florida, have considered bills to forbid medical professionals from providing treatments to trans minors and fine doctors (and even threaten them with prison) for providing hormone therapies or surgical treatment. These laws actually fall more on outlawing conduct rather than simple speech, but in both cases, each side is attempting to use government power and political influence to control and outlaw therapeutic treatments because they object to it.”

    The difference being that hormone therapies and surgical treatment on children do irreversible damage to a person who has limited ability to understand the consequences of what those treatments will take away from them. That parts of the medical profession has been acting so irresponsible pushing such things for a mental condition, which is, at best, poorly understood and easily misdiagnosed.

    1. How is it different from gay conversion therapy again?

      1. The damage is physiological and irreversible and being performed on persons below the age of reason. Which part do you not think is different?

        1. Psychological damage to children.

          1. How much psychological damage happens when the 95% of prepubescent children who express a idea they would rather be the opposite gender but grow out of it realize they were talked into making irreversible physiological changes to themselves when they were children who did not understand what they were giving up??

  13. My god this is child abuse..woke moms who want attention it is like Munchousin by proxy crap. Until a child is an adult there should be NO consideration by the medical field to change their “sex.” Growing up is very hard and kids especially those that don’t fit in or have this or that issues emotionally are very susceptible to being convinced they are “different.” That show on TV the Mom was obviously enjoying the whole thing..it brought her attention as the lead woke in her liberal jewish community..

  14. Does this mean that bans of Q conversion therapy would still be ok?

    1. I’m convinced that the only people on the planet that think about Q are credulous lefties.

  15. It’s a fucking stretch to say that a “a cruel scam unsupported by research” is considered free speech when it’s being used as a medical treatment. What possible way is there for licensing boards to judge the merits of non-drug mental health therapies under this regime?

    These people, mind you, are perfectly fine forcing doctors to say things they don’t believe about abortion.

    1. Who’s “These people” — I’m not one of “These people” and I’m willing to bet most here aren’t “These people”.

      1. Tony personally knows a lot of strawmen.

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  17. Banning-by-law people telling other people that they might not actually be a bus that their brain thinks they are might be an infringement of speech…. Huh, who could’ve guessed that!

    Everyone knows that boy isn’t a bus; but law says no one can say it.

  18. “What the governments call a ‘medical procedure’ consists—entirely— of words.” — This judge rocks!!

    Yep, that’s some major word redefining right there; that somehow most have all gotten propagandized into believing.

    Kind of like weather fortune-telling now deemed climate science.
    Bow down to your Gov-God’s for they know all things as they look into their multi-trillion dollar glass ball.

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  21. From what I’ve read, conversion therapy appears to be evangelical quackery. But I’ve always been deeply troubled by government bans, especially because it’s non-invasive.

    It seems that Reiki, reflexology, aromatherapy, and acupuncture could be characterized as ” cruel scams unsupported by research”.

    Quite bizarre that all sorts of invasive and irreversible “gender affirming” therapies are perfectly okay. So if an eight year old declares, “I feel like a horse stuck in a human body”, do we start fitting them for a bridle, bit and iron shoes?

  22. “Let’s be clear here: Conversion therapy is a cruel scam unsupported by research”
    Not really at all.
    But participating in someone’s delusion that they are anything but their biological gender is cruel, irresponsible, and unsupported by research.

    1. Gender is not a biological concept. It’s informed by some biological realities, but it’s by definition a social construct. That’s why we have a separate word from “sex.”

      1. You mean like “human” &”person”, “dog” & “canine”, and “cat” & “feline”?
        Your argument is nonsense bootstrapping.
        Adults can pretend to be whatever they want, but the rest of us do not have to participate in their fantasy or delusion in any way. That includes calling a he a she, allowing biological males into female bathrooms or sports competition, etc.
        A DNA test always gives the correct answer, and in the case minors, it is the answer that their parents are have a responsibility and the authority to impose on them.

        1. To reiterate, gender is not a biological concept. For that matter, pronouns and bathroom policies are also not encoded in DNA. You’re arguing in favor of a set of conventions, and you’re arguing for it from the usual place: emotion. Fine, you have a right to an opinion about social conventions. Just stop saying biology determines them. That is not a fact, and you are not entitled to your own facts.

          The problem I have is when you start arguing in favor of a new social convention in which it is permissible for you to be rude to people because of how they’ve decided to live their private lives. As a dedicated conservative, I cannot abide this radical new concept of it being OK to be a cunt to people because you’re uncomfortable.

          1. Tony,
            DNA is not emotion. It is a science based method of determining gender. This is not a “radical new concept”, it just an additional option besides besides examining genitalia to get the answer.
            Nothing new about this at all. It has been and still is the accepted norm throughout recorded history.
            Freedom is a two way street. People have the freedom to fantasize that they are something they are not. I have the freedom to ignore.
            And, I don’t need your permission for that to be “OK”, and I don’t care about your definition of “rude”.
            You’ll have to accept it, because you can’t stop it.
            Engage in whatever crazy you want, but don’t expect me to participate.

      2. “That’s why we have a separate word from “sex.”

        SCOTUS says you are wrong. They are legally the same thing according to 2019 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, GA.

        1. No, Bostock was not a dispute between grammar or dictionary partisans. It decided that discriminating against people because of gender identity or sexual orientation was the same thing as discriminating against them based on sex, because the discrimination is based on expectations of conformity to sex-based norms.

          1. Yes, you are correct. My point is that the court chose to define things like gender, or gender expression, or sexual orientation through the definition of biological sex. The unintended consequence is that SCOTUS affirmed the supremacy of biological sex over gender identity and sexual orientation in legal matters.

            i.e. a biological male cannot be discriminated against for dressing “like” a woman simply because he’s a biological male. So a transgender person cannot (legally) escape biological sex. All of their civil rights hinge not on “gender identity” but on biological sex, and biological sex alone.

            1. John,
              No one cares what people wear or what they pretend to be unless it effects them of their families.
              They care who goes in a women’s bathroom with their 10 year old daughters, who their high school daughter has to compete against in cross country, and who their grown daughter has to compete against in a cycling race.
              There is no “right”, for a biological male to do any of these things.

  23. If this “therapy” is truly voluntary, there should be no objections from the government. The question is, how to know that the patients are really there because they “wish to reduce their attraction to individuals of the same sex or to reduce feelings of being the wrong gender”, and not simply because their parents are making them go?

    1. Parents can make their kids go to school, to church, to see a psychiatrist. I don’t see why they can’t make their kids do this.
      I’m not necessarily wild about all of it, but I think parents need to be given very wide discretion in how they can raise their children or more and more aspects of child rearing will fall under government control.

  24. The patient in that picture does look much like a minor.

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  26. Is there any point to a principled position?

    They also warn that the court cannot simply allow government to ban speech by reclassifying it as “conduct.” They add, “Forbidding the government from choosing favored and disfavored messages is at the core of the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee.”

    Thank you. Now these frauds must be fought with more speech rather than the power of censorship.

    This isn’t the first such speech battle. We’re just getting started with harrassment censorship attempts, also oriented around psychogical issues. This cannot be allowed as politicians will immediately declare certain thoughts, if verbalized, bannable.

    They did it with harrassment and the tech giants: censor harrassment or we will crush your stock price via section 230 changes. Now go censor our political opponents, whose tweets we declare harrassment.

    Anyone doubting me should go back and look at the 0 time lag between “noble” (if it is that) concerns of harrassment and its immediate application to political opponents.

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