In 2018, Washington State voted to prohibit licensed therapists from the use of Conversion Therapy on patients under the age of 18. In 2021, a Washington state therapist and advocate of conversion therapy, Brian Tingley, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the ban. A federal district court and, eventually, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law based on state rights. Tingley v. Ferguson, 47 F. 4th 1055, 1077 (9th Cir. 2022). Although Tingly was hopeful the United States Supreme Court would hear the matter, in December of 2023, the Court declined to grant the request for review. While the Court determined that Court intervention was not necessary at this time, disputes regarding conversion therapy and parental rights continue to rise - making the likelihood of future Court review seem unavoidable.
If Conversion Therapy is a matter of dispute in your child custody battle and you have questions about your parental rights, contact the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team today for assistance by calling us at 888-535-3686 or by using our online contact form.
Is Conversion Therapy Legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes and no. In August of 2022, Governor Tim Wolf issued Executive Order 2022-02, discouraging local governments from supporting conversion therapy and prohibiting the use of state funds. It's important to note that the Governor's orders do not “‘ban” or outlaw conversion therapy at the local level. The orders merely ensure that funds at the state level are not allocated towards conversion therapy practices or used to reimburse or incentivize agencies offering conversation therapy. All this is to say that if you're wondering whether you or your spouse can pursue conversion therapy, it depends. Conversion therapy policies may differ depending on which of 67 Pennsylvania counties you reside in. According to data published in 2023 by the Movement Advancement Project 2023, 2 counties (Bucks and Allegheny) and 13 cities in the state have policies in place that prohibit conversion therapy for minors.
Conversion Therapy in Child Custody Cases
The use of conversion therapy can introduce complex challenges in child custody disputes, especially when the parents disagree about the practice. As with any child custody matter, the court's primary focus should be the “best interests” of the minor(s) involved - encompassing considerations about a child's emotional, mental, and physical health. And while experts across the nation continue to differ on the effects of conversion therapy, the matter has yet to be flushed out the Pennsylvania State or Federal Court systems. This ambiguity makes it difficult to determine a court's future orders within the best interest standards.
Questions About Your Child's Well-Being in an Ongoing Custody Battle?
While the legal landscape of Conversion laws remains undecided, our LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can utilize practical tools and strategies in your child custody battle, such as representing your position before the court, offering guidance on how to advocate for your child's welfare, and updating you about state and federal conversion therapy laws as they continue to develop. Contact us today at 888-535-3686 or use our online contact form.