New York Will Probably Ban Conversion Therapy in 2019

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(Originally published on January 1, 2019 with The Student Post)

This year’s midterm elections were a huge success for Democrats all across the liberal spectrum. While maintaining hold of New York’s governor’s mansion and the state assembly, the blue wave took the state Senate in its tide as well.

In the past, Democrats have tried multiple times to get a bill passed to ban conversion therapy on the state level. These attempts always passing in the Assembly, but failing to ever get on the Senate floor with the prior Republican majority. Now with New York’s blue trifecta, the bill is said to be reintroduced after the swearing-in and reconvening of the Senators in January.

For those who don’t know, conversion therapy is a practice, often with deep religious roots, that attempts to ‘turn’ LGBTQ+ individuals into straight, cisgender people so to align with hetero-normative culture. This culture expresses and assumes a ‘right’ or ‘true way’ of life, as well as the belief that sexual orientation and gender is a ‘choice,’ ignoring the scientific research done into the topics.

The conversion ban bill, introduced by state Senator Brad Hoylman (D, WF) is specifically filed as A.3977 in the Assembly and S.263 in the Senate. The title of the bill states, “An act to amend the education law, in relation to prohibiting mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under the age of eighteen years and expanding the definition of professional misconduct with respect to mental health professionals.”

The purpose of the bill reads, “This bill would prohibit a mental health professional, as defined, from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, as defined, with a patient under 18 years of age. The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a licensed mental health professional shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.”

Right now, the bill sits in the state Senate Mental Health And Developmental Disabilities Committee.

I reached out to state Senator Shelley Mayer (D, WEP, WF) for comment, who said the following of the bill:

I am proud to support bill S.263/A.3977 which would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation of patients under 18-years-old. For decades, the majority of mental health professionals have accepted that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not a disease or disorder but simply another form of gender or sexual expression. Additionally, studies have shown the long list of negative effects from being rejected by one’s family due to sexual orientation. I applaud the Westchester County Board of Legislators and County Executive George Latimer for leading the way by banning conversion therapy. I look forward to this bill ultimately becoming law in New York State as well and protecting our LGBTQ+ minors from the harmful effects of conversion therapy.

Along with Westchester County, the counties of Albany, Erie, and Ulster, as well as Rochester and New York City have banned conversion therapy.

This is a major step forward for LGBTQ+ people and allies, especially in regards to continuing progress in this area involving LGBTQ+ rights, awareness, and education, when many feel like all they can do in the area of social justice is damage control under the current federal administration.

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