It's called “conversion therapy.”
It's used to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Now, there's a push in Tampa to stop mental health professionals from doing that to minors.
Thursday morning, LGBTQ advocates will meet with the Tampa City Council at the Old Tampa City Hall to discuss banning conversion therapy in minors.
“I was beaten, I was kept up late at night reading journals and expected to explain myself,” says Aaron Munoz.
Munoz, 27, was a designated female at birth but identifies as male.
“I knew by kindergarten when the teacher said boys on this side and girls on the other, I knew that something wasn't right,” says Munoz.
Munoz was never put through a "conversion therapy" program but says his parents mimicked the practice at home.
“That's not something many families could afford, mine couldn't,” says Munoz. “So, they took it into their own hands and that led to a lifetime of damage.
“It was as violent as you can imagine. Punching me in the face. Throwing me around the room. All while telling me you’re not normal. No amount of abuse was ever going to fix it,” says Munoz.
That's why Munoz along with others like Kate Conolly want the City of Tampa to ban gay conversion therapy to minors.
“This is something that is considered abuse and it can go as far as electromagnetic therapy. Not something that is fair to do to a child,” says Conolly.
The proposed ordinance would fine state-licensed therapists and counselors $1,000 for a first offense and $5,000 for repeat offenses
10News WTSP tried to get a hold of conversion therapy advocate Mark Culligan.
Culligan founded New Hearts outreach, which helps those who are "sexually and relationally challenged."
No one was there or returned our calls but we found a post by the organization on Facebook. It reads "Please pray that the law doesn't pass."
“There is nothing anyone can do to condition a person to be something that who they are,” says Munoz.
The Department of Children & Families published a change in 2016 to state rules that would specifically ban bullying or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In 2015, the department proposed to give greater protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children in its care. But following a backlash from religious conservative groups, the state backtracked this spring, prompting an outcry.
The following states have already banned conversion therapy for minors:
· New Jersey
· New York
There's a similar bill in the Florida House; religious groups are excluded
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