Tallahassee Florida 32399
ATTN: Ms. Jodi Abramowitz
Dear Ms. Abramowitz,
My name is Timothy MacGeorge and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). In my work as a therapist at a community behavioral health center in Naples (FL), I occasionally work with youth who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).
I am writing to urge the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to restore the language that was recently stricken from Rule 65C-I4: Group Care Licensing (cf. http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/publicnotices/20160408-Notice-of-Change-65C-14.pdf ) being considered at tomorrow’s [April 8, 2016] public hearing. As a therapist, I have seen first hand how a young LGBT person’s emotional well-being is impacted by the degree to which he/she is accepted by his/her family, friends, classmates, teachers, and society at large. When young people are accepted for who they are, they are more likely to thrive and reach their God-given potential. When young people are denigrated, shamed, and made to feel that their sense of self is an abomination to be exorcised, then the resulting high rates of anxiety, depression and even suicide should not come as a surprise. All reputable mental health organizations now recognize the broad range of sexual orientations and gender identities within the human family. They also recognize that any attempt to change or “convert” someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not only clinically unsound, but also professionally unethical.
Media reports suggest that the impetus behind this recent language change in the Proposed Rule was pressure from religious groups in the state, including the Florida Catholic Conference. As a Catholic Christian (one who was also ordained a Catholic priest), I believe that there is more support in Sacred Scripture for accepting all of God’s children as they are, created in God’s image and likeness, than there is for any view which sees LGBT persons as “unnatural,” “not normal” or in need of so-called “conversion therapy.”
Please do the right thing and restore the recently stricken language from the proposed rule. Please act on behalf of all youth committed to DCF’s care — including LGBT youth.
Timothy J MacGeorge, LCSW
Bonita Springs, FL 34135