In 2018, the State of Washington passed a law prohibiting state-licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient under 18 years old. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has warned that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
In 2021, an anti-LGBTQ legal group filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new law on behalf of Brian Tingley, a therapist and advocate of conversion therapy. NCLR successfully moved to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Equal Rights Washington, the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization and a primary supporter of the law during the legislative process. ERW and the State of Washington urged the court to uphold the law in light of the overwhelming consensus of medical and mental health professionals that conversion therapy poses a serious risk to the health and well-being of Washington’s youth. In August 2021, the federal district court for the Western District of Washington upheld the law and rejected Tingley’s challenge. Brian Tingley appealed.
In September of 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, holding that the Constitution allows states to enact laws to protect youth from the harms of conversion therapy by licensed therapists. Shortly thereafter, Tingley requested that the Ninth Circuit rehear the case before a larger en banc panel of judges. On January 23, 2023, the court denied Tingley’s request, maintaining the Ninth Circuit’s original ruling.
Equal Rights Washington is represented in the case by NCLR and Raegen Rasnic of Skellenger Bender, P.S. For more on our casework combating conversion therapy, learn more about our Born Perfect campaign.