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Colorado censors counselor’s private conversations with clients

ADF attorneys available for media interviews following hearing Friday
Related Case:
A counselor takes notes as he talks with a child and parent

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Chiles v. Salazar

WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 8:30 a.m. MST, Friday, Nov. 17

WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Byron White Courthouse, 1823 Stout St., Denver, Courtroom II; or view the livestream. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Hattie Troutman at (771) 200-7630.

DENVER – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys will be available for media interviews following oral arguments Friday in Chiles v. Salazar at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. ADF attorneys represent Kaley Chiles, a licensed professional counselor in Colorado who helps clients with various issues, including gender identity and sexual orientation.

Colorado’s counseling censorship law violates Chiles’ freedom of speech and infringes on her free exercise of religion and that of her clients by censoring and prohibiting certain private client-counselor conversations regarding sexual orientation and gender identity that the government disfavors while allowing—even encouraging—conversations the government favors. ADF attorneys are asking the 10th Circuit to reverse a district court’s decision that ruled against Chiles’ freedoms protected by the First Amendment.

“Colorado’s law violates Kaley’s freedom to speak and practice her faith, and it harms both her and her clients who come to her seeking help,” said ADF Legal Counsel Cody Barnett, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of Chiles. “The government has no business censoring private conversations between clients and counselors, nor should a counselor be used as a tool to impose the government’s biased views on her clients. We urge the 10th Circuit to halt the unlawful attempt of Colorado officials to ban someone’s speech simply because they disagree with the viewpoints expressed.”

Colorado’s law violates Chiles’ freedom of speech and her free exercise of religion by prohibiting licensed counselors from having any conversation with clients under age 18 that “attempts or purports to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” Significantly, the law only prohibits counsel in one direction. For example, it allows counseling conversations that aim to steer young people toward a gender identity different than the client’s sex but prohibits conversations that aim to help that same person return to comfort with his or her sex. The law threatens fines up to $5,000 per violation, suspension from practice, and even revocation of the counselor’s license.

ADF attorneys representing licensed marriage and family counselor Brian Tingley have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case, which challenges a similar law in Washington state.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Cody Barnett
Cody Barnett
Legal Counsel
Cody Barnett serves as legal counsel on Alliance Defending Freedom’s Appellate Advocacy Team, where he represents various ADF clients before appellate courts across the country.