Historic movement to END CONVERSION THERAPY in Orange County kicks off at Stonewall Bar TONIGHT!
- What: Rally to end conversion therapy in Orange County
- When: Thursday, August 15, 2019 5:30pm-8:30pm
- Where: Stonewall Bar, 741 W Church Street, Orlando FL 32805 • Media: Program from 7:00-7:30pm
Confirmed speakers include:
- Survivors of Conversion Therapy
- Eric Rollings, Community Activist
- Linda Stewart, Florida State Senator
- Jennifer Foster, Executive Director, One Orlando Alliance
- Randy Thomas, Executive Director, Thrive LGBT+
- Alan Chambers, former President of Exodus International, faith-leader supportingban
- Stephanie Preston-Hughes, LMHC, NCC
- Michael Slaymaker, CEO, Orlando Youth Alliance
- Reverend Bryan Fulwider, faith-based community leader, co-host of FriendsTalking Faith
- Heather Wilkie, Executive Director, Zebra Coalition
- Brandon Wolf and Ian Siljestrom, Equality Florida
- Troy Stevenson, Campaign Manager, 50 Bills 50 States / The Trevor Project
- ASL Interpreters: Dan Parvaz & Carmelo Falú-Rodríguez
Community activists are organizing an event to assemble supporters calling for an ordinance to ban conversion therapy in Orange County. The rally builds upon the momentum of a petition launched by Central Florida LGBTQ activist Andrew Chang on the website change.org.
The petition, which can be found at ConvertToLove.org, has quickly reached over 4,500 signatures and garnered the support of LGBTQ+ community organizations including Equality Florida, One Orlando Alliance, Orlando Youth Alliance, The Trevor Project, Thrive LGBTQ+ and Zebra Coalition. These organizations are working together alongside local faith-based leaders, mental health professionals, educators and LGBTQ+ community leaders to move this initiative forward.
Local activists and supporters of the conversion therapy ban will hold a rally at Stonewall Bar in Orlando on Aug. 15 from 5:30- 8:30 p.m. to help build more local support for this issue. The event will feature a collection of guest speakers that will include Zebra Coalition’s Executive Director Heather Wilkie, Orlando Youth Alliance’s CEO Michael Slaymaker and former president of Exodus International, an Orlando- based pro-conversion therapy group, Alan Chambers.
“Coming out remains one of the most emotionally challenging decisions in a LGBTQ+ person’s life, often leading to rejection and depression. For many, especially our youth, acceptance is a matter of life or death” said Jennifer Foster, Executive Director of One Orlando Alliance. “In order to realize a safe and inclusive community, and protect our youth, we must do away with the harmful practice of conversion therapy” she added.
The act of conversion therapy has also been condemned by many local and state-level politicians and even members of Orange County’s school board. “Conversion therapy has been shown to be abusive and damaging to children. It should be illegal,” Orange County District 3 School Board Member Linda Kolbert said in a statement. “As a school board member, I am responsible for the success, care and protection of all children. All means ALL.”
Stephanie Preston-Hughes, a FL Licensed Mental Health Counselor, condemns the treatment saying “The practice of conversion therapy is in direct conflict with the ethical codes of the major professional organizations to which mental health providers belong, including the American Counseling Association and the American Psychiatric Association. These ethical codes recognize conversion therapy as not only discriminatory, but in fact harmful.”
“Everyone has the basic right to feel safe and to be who they are without judgement, fear and intimidation. Conversion therapy is a false belief that an individual can change ones sexual orientation or gender identity through talk therapy and psychological aversion interventions.” added Tom Lamkin, MA, LMHC, CCS Mental Health Practitioner.
Lamkin added “The American Psychological Association reports that reparative therapies try to fix something that is not a mental illness. The practice of conversion therapy leads to potentially harming the individual with such mental health issues as traumatic stress, depression and suicidal ideation. We all need to work together to reduce the misunderstanding about and prejudice toward the LGBTQ community and put an end to conversion therapy.”
Helping to lead the charge against conversion therapy, LGBTQ activist Eric Rollings hopes that these efforts can collect at least 5,000 petition signatures, which will be presented to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and the Orange County Commission.
“If we are going to bring this to the commission then it is vital that we have community support,” Rollings says. “Highly rejected youth are eight times more likely to attempt suicide. We can’t wait for the state or federal government to act when there are youth in Orange County who are subjected to this dangerous practice. It it is our responsibility to make sure that we have all the local protections that we can to protect our youth.”
Contact: Eric Rollings
Phone: (407) 256-2470