Tampa’s Ban on Counseling for Minors Struggling With Unwanted Same-sex Attraction and Gender Confusion is Struck Down in Court

A Tampa city ordinance banning counseling for minors with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender confusion has been overturned in federal court.

In a Friday ruling from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Judge William F. Jung issued an order granting summary judgment to Christian legal group Liberty Counsel in its lawsuit to invalidate an ordinance in the city of Tampa that prohibited voluntary talk therapy for minors experiencing unwanted sexual feelings and attractions and gender identity confusion.

The group represented Robert Vazzo, a marriage and family therapist, and New Hearts Outreach Tampa Bay, a Christian counseling and discipleship ministry. With Jung’s ruling, the ordinance was struck down, arguing that the government does not have standing to try to interfere with confidential conversations in therapy sessions.

“The City has never before substantively regulated and disciplined the practice of medicine, psychotherapy, or mental health treatment within City limits. Nor does the City possess charter or home rule authority to do so. The City Ordinance is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline,” the ruling reads.

“Nothing is more intimate, more private, and more sensitive, than a growing young man or woman talking to a mental health therapist about sex, gender, preferences, and conflicting feelings. The Ordinance inserts the City’s code enforcers into the middle of this sensitive, intense and private moment. But this moment is already governed by Florida’s very broad rights of privacy, something the Ordinance ignores … The Florida Constitution’s privacy amendment suggests that government should stay out of the therapy room. The Tampa Ordinance does not address this constitutional issue, and in doing so the City attempts to occupy a very private space, contrary to a strong statewide policy.”

The ruling also underscored the importance of parental rights, calling them “fundamental” and protected by both the Florida Supreme Court and the state constitution.

“This is a great victory for counselors and clients,” Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel said in response to the ruling.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter