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LGBTQ: Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal of Washington law prohibiting conversion ‘therapy’

Rebecca Barnabi
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In early December, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal to a Washington State law prohibiting licensed health care professionals from practicing conversion “therapy” as it applies to minors.

The Court’s decision is applauded by The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, and lets stand a hard-fought victory that enshrines protections for LGBTQ+ youth against a dangerous and discredited practice.
“The Court’s decision today to allow these protections to stand in place sends an affirming message to LGBTQ+ youth, their families, and survivors while honoring the victims we’ve lost to this abusive practice. Each time the question of whether these statewide protections are constitutional has reached the Court, the Supreme Court has consistently refused to intervene,” Janson Wu, The Trevor Project Senior Director, State Advocacy & Government Affairs, said.
According to Wu, protecting LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy is not controversial, yet many states have yet to enact legislative protections.
“Even with today’s victory, there is still a long road ahead to ending conversion therapy. We hope that lawmakers take the Court’s decision today as an opportunity to implement vital protections against this practice. The Trevor Project is committed to working with our partners, policymakers, and advocates across the country to finally put an end to this horrible and harmful practice — once and for all.”

In The Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People, 1 in 20 LGBTQ+ youth reported being subjected to conversion therapy, and another 10 percent were threatened with it. Fifteen percent of LGBTQ+ youth cited the fear of being subjected to conversion therapy as a reason they did not seek out desired mental health care.

A 2020 peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that LGBTQ+ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and more than 2.5 times as likely to report multiple suicide attempts in the past year. A 2022 peer-reviewed study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that the practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ+ youth and its associated harms, including substance abuse, depression, anxiety and suicide attempts, costs the U.S. economy a total estimated $9.23 billion annually.

Conversion therapy has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization as unscientific, ineffective and dangerous. Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws since 2012 banning licensed professionals from subjecting minors to conversion therapy, and five more states and Puerto Rico have implemented partial bans against it.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.