Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Court Upholds Conversion Therapy Ban

In Chiles v. Salazar, (D CO, Dec. 19, 2022), a Colorado federal district court rejected constitutional challenges to Colorado's ban on mental health professionals engaging in conversion therapy for minors who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming. In a suit brought by a licensed counselor, the court found no violation of plaintiff's free speech rights because the Minor Therapy Conversion Law regulates professional conduct rather than speech. Any speech that is affected is incidental to the professional conduct. The court also found no violation of plaintiff's free exercise rights, saying in part:

According to Ms. Chiles, the Minor Therapy Conversion Law is not neutral because it was “well-known” at the time the Colorado General Assembly enacted the Minor Therapy Conversion Law that conversion therapy was primarily sought for religious reasons.... Therefore, Ms. Chiles’ argument goes, the Minor Therapy Conversion Law impermissibly burdens practitioners who hold particular religious beliefs.... The Court disagrees. The Minor Therapy Conversion Law does not “restrict [therapeutic] practices because of their religious nature.”... [T]he Minor Therapy Conversion Law targets specific “modes of therapy” due to their harmful nature— regardless of the practitioner’s personal religious beliefs or affiliations.... [T]he Minor Therapy Conversion law targets these therapeutic modalities because conversion therapy is ineffective and has the potential to “increase [minors’] isolation, self-hatred, internalized stigma, depression, anxiety, and suicidality”....