Olympia Dispatch

Washington State Bans Conversion Therapy for Minors

Washington will be the 11th state to ban the practice.

By Hayat Norimine March 28, 2018

Seattle first baptist lgbtq friendly twl1b6

Seattle's First Baptist Church in June 2015. 

Image: Joe Wolf

Starting in June, licensed therapists in Washington can no longer try to change a minor's sexual orientation. 

Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a new bill into state law that bans practicing so-called conversion therapy on children—which at its worst, medical professionals say, makes someone associate their attraction to the same sex with physical pain. 

There, teens see "therapists who tell them that they're they're not good enough, that they're not the way they're supposed to be," state senator Marko Liias in February's testimony. The Everett Democrat has introduced the bill every legislative session since 2014. "There's no reason in Washington state that a medical provider should be able to treat children this way." 

Under the new law, licensed therapists who offer the therapy for those under the age of 18 could face anything from fines to getting their licenses revoked. The new law doesn't apply to counselors operating under religious organizations. This year's bill had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. 

According to 2014 testimony, only a handful of therapists still practice conversion or "reparative" therapy in Washington state. Those who spoke in favor of the ban said they know people who have been subjected to methods that included nausea and vomiting, days-long ice baths, and rocks placed in one's shoes. 

Reverend Manny Santiago, a pastor at the University Baptist Church in Seattle, in a 2014 public testimony said conversion therapy as an adolescent drove him to consider suicide and "left me with deep wounds that are still heeling." 

Ten other states have banned conversion therapy, including Oregon and California.

Updated subtitle at 9:30am to correct that Washington became the 11th, not 10th state to ban the practice.

Show Comments