FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2023
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined review of Tingley v. Ferguson, a Ninth Circuit decision affirming the validity of Washington state’s law prohibiting licensed mental health professionals from subjecting minors to the harmful practice of conversion therapy, which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Today’s decision is a huge relief for LGBTQ minors in Washington and throughout the country,” said Mathew Shurka, Co-Founder of Born Perfect, a national program of the National Center for Lesbian Rights that seeks to end conversion therapy through litigation, legislation, and public education. “These laws play a critical role in protecting LGBTQ minors and their families from this dangerous practice, which drives LGBTQ youth to self-hatred and despair, and which tragically isolates LGBTQ youth from their families. As a survivor of this damaging practice, I know firsthand how damaging these practices can be.”
“The Ninth Circuit correctly held that Washington’s law is a regulation of mental health treatment, not speech,” said Shannon Minter, the legal director of NCLR. “When state-licensed therapists are providing treatment to patients, states can and do require them to provide safe, competent, and ethical care. Every major medical and mental health association in the country has warned that conversion therapy is unnecessary, ineffective, and harmful. In one study, more than 60 percent of youth subjected to conversion therapy attempted suicide. That is why nearly half the states in this country have enacted laws to protect youth and their families from these serious harms.”
This case arose in 2021 when Robert Tingley, a licensed therapist in Washington, brought a lawsuit challenging Washington’s law on the ground that it allegedly violated his right to freedom of speech. Represented by NCLR, Equal Rights Washington intervened in the lawsuit to help defend the law.
A federal district court dismissed Tingley’s challenge, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed that decision in 2022. The Ninth Circuit rejected Tingley’s petition for hearing en banc, and Tingley then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review in March of this year. Today, the Supreme Court denied that petition, leaving the Ninth Circuit’s decision in place.
Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) in 2014 to end conversion therapy by passing laws across the country that protect LGBT children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices. http://bornperfect.org/