Family therapist Brian Tingley has asked the United States Supreme Court to review Washington state’s censorship of sexual orientation counseling for minors.
In 2018, Washington state passed SB 5722, a law that prohibits specific conversations between counselors and minors about gender identity, sexual behavior and sexual orientation that are not in line with the state’s views.
This has caused Tingley, a counselor who has had his own practice in the community of Fircrest, Washington, since 2002, to be restricted in what he can and cannot say to his younger clients.
The licensed counselor is a Christian and says his “faith informs [his] views concerning human nature, healthy relationships, and what paths and ways of thinking will enable [his] clients to achieve comfort with themselves and live happy and satisfied lives.”
Tingley’s attorneys say the Washington law violates his First Amendment rights to share his religious beliefs, such as a Biblical view of biology with clients under the age of 18, including those who are Christian.
His conversations involve normal counseling methods of listening and supporting children, adults, and couples as they navigate family and marital conflicts, stress management, depression, and sexual-orientation or gender-identity.
If Tingley chooses to disobey the law and practice conversion therapy by helping clients be more comfortable with their gender or lessen undesired feelings of same-sex attraction, he faces a $5,000 penalty per violation and could even lose his license. However, the law does allow Tingley to push the state’s agenda by encouraging youth to pursue treatments and procedures that could cause permanent sterilization.
On Monday, March 27, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, who are representing Tingley, asked the Supreme Court to hear the case in hopes of reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s September decision to side with the state. The ruling declared that Washington’s law only regulated the conduct of conversations, not the speech itself.
“The government can’t control a counselor’s speech. Washington’s counseling censorship law violates freedom of speech and harms counselors as well as clients,” said John Bursch, ADF senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy.
“Brian has counseled all types of people for more than 20 years, and those conversations are private—certainly not open for the government to censor. The government has no business dictating what personal goals a client can pursue in counseling. We hope the Supreme Court will agree to hear this case and halt the unlawful attempt of Washington state officials to ban someone’s speech simply because they disagree with the viewpoints expressed.”
Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom