The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Eleventh Circuit Opinions on the First Amendment and Bans on "Conversion Therapy" for Minors


In November 2020, a 2-1 Eleventh Circuit panel decision in Otto v. City of Boca Raton concluded:

Boca Raton and Palm Beach County prohibit therapists from engaging in counseling or any therapy with a goal of changing a minor's sexual orientation, reducing a minor's sexual or romantic attractions (at least to others of the same gender or sex), or changing a minor's gender identity or expression—though support and assistance to a person undergoing gender transition is specifically permitted. These restrictions apply even to purely speech-based therapy…. We understand and appreciate that the therapy is highly controversial. But the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech. We hold that the challenged ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny.

(See Jonathan Adler's post on the case.) Today, the Eleventh Circuit denied en banc rehearing, with several judges writing to concur or to dissent on that point; I'm slammed right now and can't quickly summarize or excerpt the opinions (which take up 110 pages), but I thought I'd link to them for the benefit of readers who are interested in looking through them.