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Conversion Therapy Ban Bill Gets Backing From Former Supporters

Man in polo shirt stands at a podium with a cluster of microphones on top of it. Men in suits stand beside him. One person is holding a sign that reads, "I support protections against gay conversion." A camera is in the foreground recording Thomas.
Blaise Gainey

Lawmakers are filing bills to stop counselors from practicing conversion therapy on minors. Former conversion therapy practitioners are rising to support the bill.

The controversial practice is mostly known for trying to change someone from gay to straight. As a gay man, Randy Thomas advocated for conversion therapy. But he stopped after his friend committed suicide.

Two women hold signs. One reads, "I support protections against conversion therapy." The other, "Equality Florida. Stand with out LGBTQ youth."
Credit Blaise Gainey / WFSU
Activists against conversion therapy showed up at the press conference.

“He had gone back to being gay. And he had gotten involved in a difficult situation.  And conversion therapy taught him that he was broken and he couldn’t get rid of it. He thought that he was experiencing these negative experiences because somehow God was punishing him and he took his own life," says Thomas.

Thomas is now supporting two bills that would ban counselors from using conversion therapy on anyone under 18. He spoke at a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday. A 1999 study from the American Psychological Association notes conversion therapy is not effective at changing a person’s sexual orientation.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.