Locals talk conversion therapy and LGBTQ youth in Bay County

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Greater Bay Chapter of the ACLU met at the Hancock Bank conference room Monday to talk LGBTQ issues.

The guest speaker at the meeting was Cindy Wilker. She represents PFLAG Panama City and the Free2Be center for LGBTQ youth.

Wilker spoke about conversion therapy, an issue she says she's encountered in Panama City.

Wilker says some children at Free2Be have received electric shock therapy and are shamed for wanting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Wilker also spoke about Free2Be which opened near the beginning of March. She says the center, located in Panama City, will serve as a safe place for LGBTQ youth.

"It's important to have groups like the NAACP and the ACLU underneath us. We need community support. We can't do this by ourselves," Walker said. "We need to raise awareness underneath the entire community so that everybody can see the tragedy that conversion therapy is."

"[Free2Be] is going to hopefully evolve into a resource center for youth. A place that our youth can feel safe in and that they can feel supported," Cathy Rifenburg, Chapter Founder of PFLAG Panama City said.

Saturday, Free2Be is hosting a showing of the film "Love, Simon" at the AMC theater on 23rd Street.

PFLAG Panama City has tickets for LGBTQ youth and their families and friends.

For more information on PFLAG or the Free2Be Center, you can call 850-866-6475.