gay and trans pride

Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

Rows were dotted with dozens of people wearing purple T-shirts, sweaters and bowties in solidarity at Tuesday’s Alachua County Commission meeting.

On Tuesday, Alachua County Commissioners voted unanimously 5-0 in support of a conversion therapy ban ordinance.

“I take our job of making sure that our kids are safe seriously,” County Commissioner Ken Cornell said at the meeting. “I think that this is potentially a step in the right direction. Protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, public safety. I think that’s like job one for us.”

Conversion therapy is the practice of changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Terry Fleming, vice president of the Human Rights Council of North Central Florida, said the LGBTQ community is very excited the county commission has passed this conversion therapy ban.

The ordinance bans licensed professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors. Those who violate the ordinance could face a fine of $500.

In April 2018, Gainesville passed its own ordinance prohibiting conversion therapy.

“A lot of folks don’t believe that it is actually happening in this area,” Fleming said. “They feel like ‘Oh, Gainesville is a great place to live. We have the University of Florida, we’re very progressive,’ so people make assumptions that we have equal rights to the LGBTQ community, that conversion therapy isn’t happening.”

Tien is a first-year journalism major at the University of Florida.