by MK Scott
On Wednesday, March 28, with HRC President Chad Griffin in attendance, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed into law SB 5722 – legislation protecting LGBTQ youth in Washington state from the dangerous and debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ With Governor Inslee’s signature, Washington joins the growing number of states and municipalities who are enacting these critical protections. Joining Inslee and Griffin for the ceremony were Equal Rights Washington’s Monisha Harrell, other LGBTQ advocates, and survivors of conversion therapy.
The Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equal Rights Washington and State Senator Manka Dhingra issued the following statements:
‘No child should be put through the dangerous and abusive practice of conversion therapy,’ said HRC President Chad Griffin. ‘Medical professionals agree this harmful and discredited practice not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. We thank the many advocates, allies, parents, and survivors who spoke out against conversion therapy and urged their elected officials to adopt these crucial protections. We also thank Governor Inslee and the Washington State Legislature for enacting this legislation to protect LGBTQ youth.’
‘Today we applaud Washington state Governor Jay Inslee’s decision to sign into law SB 5722. We are heartened by the progress made by legislators to uphold the safety, health, and well-being of LGBTQ individuals in Washington state,’ said National Center for Lesbian Rights Youth Policy Counsel and Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator Carolyn Reyes. ‘We know that few practices hurt LGBTQ youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through the debunked practice of ‘conversion therapy.’ Washington state sets an example for the rest of the country in ensuring every child knows they are born perfect.’
‘Equal Rights Washington is excited to finally count Washington among those states committed to protecting all LGBTQ youth,’ said Equal Rights Washington Board Chair Monisha Harrell. ‘This ban on conversion therapy is the result of five years of hard work by a community of committed advocates across the state, and represents our belief that all youth should be valued, supported, and loved for who they are.’
‘In Washington state, we value all children of every sexual orientation and gender identity. So called ‘conversion therapy’ is a widely discredited practice and I was proud to vote for this ban,’ said HRC-endorsed State Senator Manka Dhingra, whose election to the Senate flipped control of the chamber helping ensure passage of SB 5722. ‘This legislation is long-overdue. Just last year, 29 percent of LGBTQ youth attempted suicide, leading to countless tragic, premature deaths. These are our children. We have to ensure they are treated with respect and dignity.’
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 harmful 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, Rhode Island, and now Washington, all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also passed similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin.
According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state lawmakers fail to act.
HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found at HRC.org.