Last Thursday, a commission of Gainesville city leaders unanimously approved an ordinance banning licensed therapists and counselors from performing conversion therapy on minors, reports Andrew Caplan for the Daytona Beach News Journal.

With this ruling, Gainesville has joined the growing ranks of Florida cities instituting bans on conversion therapy. Like many others, this ban is not without its limits–it only applies to minors, and it does not prohibit religious organizations from practicing conversion therapy. The commission will also have to vote again in April to confirm the ban.

However, it’s still an important step forward. Commissioner Helen Warren, who identifies as gay, stated, “it’s just really great to see Gainesville coming together on this topic. There are many conversations that we as people, of this country, have put on the back burner for many years. This is one of them that is critical to recognize that we the people of the United States of America respect, cherish, honor the dignity of every human being.”

Conversion therapy, which attempts to alter LGBTQ+ individuals’ sexuality or gender, has been linked to a host of negative consequences for those who undergo it. Jose Vega, a Gainesville resident who attended conversion therapy for five years when he was younger, considered suicide before he was able to seek help and come out as gay. Said Vega, “this practice is life-altering beyond anyone’s understanding who has not lived it.”

Vega claims some churches in the area still practice conversion therapy. Gainesville is also the home of the American College of Pediatricians, which advocates for conversion therapy despite the growing number of well-respected medical organizations that condemn the practice.

Read the Daytona Beach News Journal article here.