Challenge to Progress: The Fight Against Washington’s Conversion Therapy Ban

The U.S. Supreme Court might soon decide whether to dive into the battle against Washington’s ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors. Conversion therapy, in case you’ve been under a rock, is that horrid practice aiming to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And guess who’s in the middle of this challenge? The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – a group that has the unenviable title of “anti-LGBTQ hate group,” as per the Southern Poverty Law Center.

So, what’s this case all about? Brian Tingley, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is raising a red flag, saying the ban tramples on his rights. Now, these aren’t just any rights he’s talking about. Tingley claims the ban meddles with his freedom of speech and religion. Sounds like someone’s trying to mix apples with oranges here.

Let’s take a step back. The same ADF recently got a thumbs-up from the Supreme Court in another case, allowing what most of us see as clear-cut discrimination. Katherine Franke, a top law professor from Columbia University, summed it up, saying the court essentially gave folks the “green light” to discriminate. That’s worrisome.

Fast forward to Tingley’s plight: both the federal district court in Washington and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have upheld the state’s conversion therapy ban. Even the American Psychological Association stepped in, backing Washington and highlighting the undeniable risks of conversion therapy.

But Tingley isn’t one to back down easily. After being denied a rehearing, he’s now knocking on the Supreme Court’s door. Legal gurus are watching this closely. Franke voiced her concerns, mentioning that the Supreme Court’s conservative wing might just take up the case, pushing ADF’s agenda even further.

Let’s clear the air here. Conversion therapy isn’t a grey area—it’s a no-go. It can include everything from verbal to shock treatments. Loads of experts, including the UN, say it’s both dangerous and ineffective. The UN went so far as to label it a form of torture. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, a UN expert on the subject, explained that the damage from conversion therapy lasts long after the sessions end, causing deep-rooted feelings of shame, guilt, and worthlessness.

The stats back it up. LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide compared to their peers who didn’t experience this nightmare. So it’s no wonder that 22 states, plus Washington, D.C., have banned this dangerous practice for minors.

But here’s the kicker: in 2019, it was estimated that almost 16,000 LGBTQ youngsters would face conversion therapy in states without bans. Though the number may have reduced with more states jumping on the ban wagon, Tingley’s challenge could set us back.

We’ve come so far in our fight for equality and LGBTQ rights. It’s alarming that, even today, there are battles that aim to take away the progress we’ve made. As the challenge unfolds in Washington, it’s a reminder that the fight for LGBTQ rights and their safety is far from over. Stay informed, stay loud, and stand up for what’s right.