The brief, 60 days, legislative session is moving quickly in Olympia, but one piece of legislation is moving especially fast.
Senate Bill 5722, which would prohibit therapists from helping minors with gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction, passed out of the Senate Health Care Committee yesterday and was rushed to the floor calendar this morning.
The Senate has until February 14th to bring it up for a vote in the full Senate but the speed with which this particular bill is moving seems to indicate they may do so much sooner.
Banning therapy has become a national obsession and the urgency with this bill could be driven by the fact that it has been debated three times before in the legislature without being passed.
Several versions of the proposal passed the House of Representatives before stalling in the Senate that had been controlled by the Republicans. Now that the Senate is controlled by Democrats, the LGBT lobby that is driving the bill clearly sees an opportunity.
Two years ago the Senate passed an amended version of the bill that prohibited aversive therapies like shock therapy and ice baths, which proponents had claimed was the primary reason the bill was necessary. However, the sponsors of the legislation passed on the opportunities to stop actual abuse so they could come back later to stop speech between therapists and clients that they disapprove of.
The bill would also regulate pastors and church employees who are licensed therapists.
This rushed timeline also means there may be less time to educate legislators about this issue.
Practically, the bill serves no purpose. There is no evidence that abusive therapy pertaining to sexual orientation or gender identity is taking place anywhere in Washington, which is, of course, a great thing. Among the thousands of complaints that have been filed against therapists and other healthcare professionals, none have ever accused someone of abuse in an effort to change sexual orientation or gender identity.
Coercive therapy of any kind is already professional misconduct.
Symbolically, however, it could provide another way to harass people with different beliefs.
Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.