Washington State fights Tacoma therapist for conversion therapy

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Lawyers from the Washington Attorney General’s Office are in federal court defending the state’s ban on conversion therapy.

A Lawyer for a Tacoma Therapist and Washington State Lawyers pleaded their case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, May 17,

A 9th Circuit panel in Seattle is hearing the case.

Gone is Washington’s ban on conversion therapy, enacted in 2018, which bars therapists from working with minors in ways that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The law is based on research that the practice can harm LGBTQ youth.

“Efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity are ineffective and put minors at significant risk of harm, including elevated risks of suicide, depression, and elevated anxiety,” the lawyer said. Cristina Sepa of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

Sepa argued that the ban should stay in place, saying the talk therapy poses too many risks for the minors involved.

Tacoma therapist Brian Tingley argues otherwise. He filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Washington law is an infringement of speech and targets him as a Christian therapist.

Her attorney Roger Brooks argues that conversion therapy falls in the same category as marriage counseling, as far as relationship goals are concerned. Part of his argument in court was that “the First Amendment tells us again and again that the fact that an idea may be harmful, may cause harm, is not a sufficient basis for censorship.”

Brooks argues that her client should be able to have conversations with patients that relate to gender identity or sexual orientation. He says Tingley only works with minors if they or their parents want to work with him.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has twice dismissed similar challenges regarding conversion therapy. It has not yet ruled in this case.

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