Trying to change someone’s true identity through so-called therapy is a dangerous practice that can seriously harm our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, by not only denying their true identities, but by trying to change who they are.
That’s why we’re working with Assembly Member Deborah Glick (A4958) in the State Assembly and Senators Brad Hoylman and Michael Gianaris (S121) in the State Senate to pass a law that would ban this damaging practice and protect LGBT children from harm. This legislation would protect LGBT minors from psychological abuse at the hands of so-called medical professionals who try to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
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Facts about the Bill to Protect LGBT Youth
What is the bill to Protect LGBT Youth from Conversion Efforts?
This bill will protect youth from so-called “conversion therapists” who use dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. These deceitful therapists use rejection, shame, and psychological and physical abuse to force young people to attempt to change who they are. These practices are known to be extremely dangerous and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and even suicide. They are based on the false claim that being LGBT is a mental illness that needs to be cured—a view rejected 40 years ago by the every major mental health group. This bill protects young people from deceitful state-licensed therapists in New York who falsely claim to parents and youth that being LGBT can be “cured,” therefore taking advantage of unsuspecting parents and harming vulnerable youth. No young person should ever be shamed by a mental health professional into thinking that who they are is wrong. Mental health professionals should provide care that is ethical and affirming for LGBT young people. We can’t allow one more young person to be targeted and hurt by these dangerous and discredited practices.
That’s why we’re working with Assemblymember Deborah Glick (A.4958) and Senators Brad Hoylman and Michael Gianaris (S.121) to pass a law that would end this damaging practice and protect LGBT minors from harm. The bill would prohibit licensed mental health professionals from trying to “convert” the sexual orientations or gender identities of minors.
Bill summary: “Designates as professional misconduct, engaging in sexual orientation change efforts by mental health care professionals upon patients under 18 years of age.” […] Sexual orientation change efforts” (i) means any practice by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex; and (ii) shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support and understanding of patients or the facilitation of patients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.”
How New York Compares to Other States:
• California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have ended this practice.
• Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia are also proposing similar legislation, as is the United Kingdom.
Why Must NY End LGBT Conversion Efforts?
• The nation’s leading mental health associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, have issued position statements warning about the dangers of these practices.
• New York State has a responsibility to protect all young people from these dangerous practices. This bill is similar to many other laws that protect youth from known dangers. For instance, state law protects young people from child abuse and neglect at the hands of their parents and other adults. Current law also protects young people from being able to buy alcohol and tobacco, as well as from physical or verbal harassment, and bullying and discrimination at school.
• New York youth have a right to expect that a therapist practicing under a license from the state will not put them at risk of severe harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
• Most therapists understand that trying to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is harmful, wrong, and abusive. But, in New York State, some therapists continue to engage in these dangerous practices, deceiving parents and causing LGBT youth to suffer lasting trauma.
Who does this legislation apply to?
• The legislation clearly defines “mental health professional” and “sexual orientation change efforts” to make it clear what the law covers and what it does not. For the purposes of this law, “sexual orientation change efforts” is defined to protect transgender New Yorkers too.
• Mental health professionals who engage in conversion efforts will be subject to disciplinary sanctions, including fines and loss of license, by their state licensing agency.
• The proposed legislation in New York State applies only to the treatment of minors who cannot legally make their own decisions. Legal adults can pursue whatever therapies they wish.
• The bill only applies to state licensed mental health professionals, not to unlicensed therapists or religious counselors.
Medical and psychological organizations that condemn conversion efforts:
The American Medical Association
The American Psychological Association
The American Psychiatric Association
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
The American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy The American Counseling Association Governing Council
The American Psychoanalytic Organization
The American School Counselor Association
The National Association of Social Workers
The Pan American Health Organization
History of “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy”:
• Reparative or Conversion Therapy includes such practices as shaming, aversion therapy, electroshock therapy and nausea-inducing drugs.
• A small group of psychotherapists, splitting with their peers, continue to promote the therapies and founded the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a scandal-plagued group that maintains a referral database of conversion practitioners.
• In June 2013, after 36 years of leading the “ex-gay” movement, Exodus International disbanded amid growing skepticism of its top officials and board members that sexual attractions can be changed. President Alan Chamber apologized, saying he was "sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized patients.”