The Washington State Senate passed two measures Friday designed to protect LGBTQA+ youth: Senate Bill (SB) 5722 would implement penalties for licensed providers performing so-called "conversion therapy" and Senate Bill (SB) 5766 hopes to reduce bullying of transgender students by requiring schools to adopt transgender policies and procedures, and mandatory trainings.
Proponents hailed both bills as a positive step for the safety and well-being of LGTBQA+ youth. If SB 5722 passes the House, Washington would become the 11th state to ban conversion therapy. Under the legislation, a provider who performs conversion therapy could face suspension or loss of their professional licensing.
“No child should ever be subjected to the dangerous and barbaric practice of conversion therapy. It amounts to nothing more than child abuse,” said Human Rights Commission National Field Director Marty Rouse. “We applaud the Washington State Senate for voting to protect the Evergreen State’s LGBTQ youth. It is crucial that the Washington House of Representatives quickly pass the measure.”
“Conversion therapy” — sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy” — encompasses a range of harmful practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQA+ is a mental illness that needs to be cured.
There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness and even suicidal behavior. The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Medical Association.
Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York and Arizona.