The Washington state House just passed a bill that would outlaw conversion therapy for people under the age of 18.
The bill would classify attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation as “unprofessional conduct” for health care providers.
All the House Democrats voted in favor of the bill, along with twelve Republicans. The bill has already passed in the Senate, but it has to go back there for concurrence.
Supporters presented testimony from conversion therapy survivors and experts who said that conversion therapy does more harm than good.
“Questions of orientation and identity ultimately require a thoughtful evaluation,” said Douglas Haldeman, former president of the California Psychological Association.
“An understanding of people’s motivation, their background, their traumas — sure enough you’re going to uncover something where someone tried to gloss over something difficult in their life by attending to a social sanction of heterosexual identity,” he said.
Terry Trudel, a psychiatrist who offers conversion therapy, said that the bill will “punish people who responsibly offer the service.”
Republicans said that the most outrageous cases of conversion therapy are already banned because they amount to child abuse, and they argued that parents have a right to try to change their kids’ sexual orientation.
“We should not take away the ability for any individual to seek the treatment that they may choose, or that their parents may choose for them to have,” Washington senator Shelly Short (R) when the senate was debating this bill in January.
The bill is expected to be signed by the governor, Jay Inslee, and it will make Washington the tenth state to ban the practice.