Washington State Senate Votes to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Practice of Conversion Therapy

The Washington State Senate has passed Senate Bill (SB) 5722 — legislation to protect LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”

“No child should ever be subjected to the dangerous and barbaric practice of conversion therapy. It amounts to nothing more than child abuse,” said HRC 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 LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured — an idea that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization.

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 clearly 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.