OLYMPIA – Two LGBTQ rights bills passed the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
SB 5722 bans the practice of any form of therapy that intends to change a person’s sexual orientation, commonly known as conversion therapy.
“This is a critical policy,” Committee Chair Senator Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, said. “It’s critically important to better ensure that we prevent any pain and suffering particularly for children in our state.”
Co-sponsor of the bill Senator Ann Rivers, R-Lewisville, said she originally signed on to the bill to allow it a chance for conversation and research. However, she advised a “no” vote on the bill saying child abuse statutes were already in place to protect children from bad practice and that parents should have a right to seek multiple options of therapy.
“I have a grave concern that we will have a chilling effect in our psychiatric community,” Rivers told lawmakers.
The bill passed out of committee and moves to the rules committee next.
Another bill, SB 5700, requires long-term healthcare providers and workers to undergo one hour of training on the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning, or LGBTQ, residents and patients. The bill’s substitute adds onto the bill a mandate for owners and administration for assisted living homes to undergo two hours of training on their next license renewal date.
The department of health and social services is in charge of developing a training curriculum.
Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, is the bill’s prime sponsor.
“No one wants to be discriminatory but some folks don’t have the understanding and training they need,” he said at the bill’s hearing on Jan. 11.
Patricia Mcintyre, a trainer for Tacoma Older LGBT and Generations Aging with Pride, said that older LGBTQ adults sometimes receive a lower quality of care, are afraid to disclose their sexual orientation, or delay treatment based on fear of discrimination.
John Ficker, executive director of the Adult Family Home Council, said he supports the bill but has some concerns.
Ficker urged lawmakers to consider the way the training is phased into existing training to ensure a smooth transition. He also expressed concerns about how employees will be compensated for training, who pays for the training, and allowing the assisted living homes enough time to put a curriculum in place.
Rivers urged the committee to vote no on this bill. She expressed concern over specializing certain groups of patients over others and said that healthcare professionals already receive non-discriminatory training.
“I think it’s critical to ensure that training specific to the needs of the LGBTQ patients are met,” Cleveland said urging the committee to vote yes.
The majority voted to advance the bill to the rules committee.
Taylor McAvoy is a reporter with the WNPA Olympia News Bureau.