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New York Becomes First State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Discredited Practice of Conversion Therapy in 2019 Legislative Session

BY: Josh Weaver
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Albany, NY — New York today became the 15th state — and first state in this legislative session — to protect LGBTQ minors from receiving conversion therapy, the dangerous and ineffective practice that falsely claims to be able to change people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo this morning, the bills were introduced by Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Brad Hoylman and quickly passed through the NY Assembly and NY Senate on January 15.

“Most Americans are shocked to learn that conversion therapy on minors is legal in any state, let alone New York,” said Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth. “We need to continue working with legislators in every state to make sure LGBTQ youth everywhere are protected from this form of torture, and today’s signing sends a clear message to young people that they are beautiful just the way they are.”

Nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults have been subjected to conversion therapy, with 350,000 of them receiving the dangerous and discredited treatment as youth. That number grows by thousands each year as the Williams Institute estimates that nearly 80,000 LGBTQ youth will be subjected to conversion therapy in the next few years. However, based on the five states that passed anti-conversion therapy legislation in 2018, the Williams Institute also estimates that 1,000 youth will be protected from the practice.

“We are grateful to Assemblymember Glick and Senator Hoylman for introducing this important legislation, and to Governor Cuomo for signing it into law — cementing New York’s place as a leader in LGBTQ equality,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “We’re grateful for the governor’s efforts to end this harmful practice via regulation and now official legislation, sending a strong message to LGBTQ youth that they don’t need to fear being subjected to so-called ‘conversion therapy.’”

“It has been long been overdue for New York State to end the deplorable practice known as conversion therapy, especially given the escalation in attacks coming from this federal administration,” says Shijuade Kadree, Chief Advocacy Officer of The NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. “We are thrilled that our state electeds have finally demonstrated that they will step up to protect its residents, ridding us of a medically-discredited practice that targets the most vulnerable – our youth – simply for being themselves. New York has shown that when our federal government fails to protect us, states have the power and promise to advance progressive laws that create affirming spaces for all.”  

The Trevor Project works with national partners such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as well as state leaders like The Center to end conversion therapy. 34 states have historically introduced legislation to protect youth from conversion therapy; with NY today, 15 states have signed them into law. Conversion therapy is widely opposed by prominent professional health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.People can sign up to join The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign, the nationwide effort to end conversion therapy by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.

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