Westchester County
New York

Local Law
LL-2018-7

Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors

Information

Department:County ExecutiveSponsors:County Executive
Category:Proposed Local Law

Body

A proposed, "LOCAL LAW creating a new Chapter 434 of the Laws of Westchester County in relation to banning conversion therapy for minors."

Meeting History

Jun 4, 2018 7:00 PM Video Board of Legislators Regular Meeting

On motion of Ms. Parker the above item was received, filed and referred to the Committees on Legislation and Social Services.

RESULT:REFERRED TO COMMITTEE
Aug 13, 2018 1:00 PM  Legislation Committee Meeting

Please see item #1 for discussion.

RESULT:PENDING
Aug 13, 2018 1:01 PM Video Social Services Committee Meeting

Chair Covill began the discussion by inviting the guests to the table and to introduce themselves for the record.

Kristen Browde, member of the Board of Directors of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater NY, the National Trans Bar Association and Equality NY, began the discussion.

Ms. Bowde stated conversion therapy is a huge problem nationwide. "Imagine being a teenager and your parents deciding that you are attracted to the wrong person or the wrong gender or look the wrong way, they would take you to a camp, or a therapist who engages in the practices of conversion therapy. This could include sleep deprivation, food deprivation, physical punishment, solitary confinement, putting you in rooms that are very cold or very hot until you confess that you really aren't attracted to whoever it is they don't want you to be attracted.

There is no science of any kind that suggests that conversion therapy or reparative therapy or sexual orientation change efforts work. Every major medical association in the United States has come out against it."

Legislator Tubiolo asked if there are any places near us. Ms. Browde replied that this is mostly down in camps in Texas, New Mexico and California. She doesn't know of any camps in New York although that doesn't mean there aren't any.

Legislator Shimsky asked if the people who conduct therapy are actually licensed therapists? Mr. Calabro replied that some of them are. He noted that the worst part of this type of therapy is that it is aimed at minors because they don't necessarily have full freedom of choice.

They can't sign their approval because they are minors.

Mr. Olde of the LGBTQ Advocacy Board stated that they put their full support behind this legislation. Conversion therapy which aims to change a person's sexual identity can cause serious and long term harm to those who are exposed to its practice. The LGBTQ Advocacy Board believes that the County of Westchester has a compelling interest to protect the

physical and psychological wellbeing of minors against exposure to this practice.

Ms. Simon discussed an experience that a friend went through and as a result of self hate of who he was, ended up as a heroin addict and faced a long struggle to come back.

Mr. Sabatino stated that conversion therapy is dangerous and fraudulent and inflicts a lot of damage on LGBTQ youth.

Research has shown that in families where there is high rejection, they are 8 times more likely to commit suicide. He noted that the one thing he wanted to say was they are born this way.

Mr. Young discussed his experiences working with LGBTQ youth. He noted that coming out as a teenager can be a very confusing time and conversion therapy does not help.

Legislator Shimsky noted that there is quite a prodigious list of organizations that have condemned conversion therapy as ineffective and dangerous and asked the guests to address this. Ms. Bowde stated that there is absolutely no study at all that shows conversion therapy has any effect in changing one's sexuality. She believes it is a form of torture.

Legislator Burrows stated that he wanted to add his name as co-sponsor of the legislation. He noted that many states already have such legislation and Governor Cuomo has issued an executive order barring insurance companies from paying for this kind of treatment in New York State.

Legislator Maher brought up the issue of religious institutions providing conversion therapy. Mr. Calabro stated that many clergymen have a mental health license to provide therapy. That is generally the type of therapist that a lot of parents turn to, especially in areas where therapists are not readily available.

The committees requested that the representatives of the law department come to the table.

Chair Covill asked to discuss Section 434.41-Private Right of Action. She asked how a minor could bring a private right of action and whether this law should be retroactive? She suggested adding a phrase that this is effective as of this date and there is no retroactive

right of action. Legislator Burrows agreed. Mr Adin of the Law Department stated that on the retroactively you wouldn't need that because it does say in there "any minor subjected to this therapy in violation of this Chapter...". Since the law doesn't go into effect until it is passed, they couldn't have been subject to conversion therapy in violation of this chapter.

Legislator Burrows and Chair Covill believed it should be more specific and Mr. Adin said that they can clarify this. Chair Covill asked how a minor can bring a private right of action?

Mr. Adin replied that a parent could bring an action on behalf of the minor. Also, the minor can apply directly to the court to bring an action.

Chair Covill asked if there is a statute of limitations?

Deputy County Attorney Stacey Dolgin-Kmetz replied that the law department would look into that as well.

The Committees discussed signing out the public hearing only.

RESULT:PENDING
Sep 5, 2018 1:00 PM Video Social Services Committee Meeting

Chair Covill asked the legislative council to explain the most recent changes made to the legislation.

Justin Aidn, Deputy County Attorney noted the changes made to the legislation were made to Section 434.41 the Private right of action. The sentence reads "Any applicable statute of limitations shall be subject to tolling in accordance with the provisions of the New York State Civil Practice Law and Rules, as a private right of action accrued by a minor is intended to survive until that minor has obtained the age of majority and can bring an action on their own behalf". In Section 2 states the law will take effect immediately and makes it clear that it is not retroactive. Also, the private right of action only applies for therapy provided after the Local Law goes into effect. Minor changes were also made to the Committee Report to reflect passage of a Conversion Therapy Ban in various municipalities throughout the State of New York.

With a motion by Legislator Shimsky and seconded by Legislator Tubiolo the item was approved with a vote of 4-0.

Oct 1, 2018 7:00 PM Video Board of Legislators Regular Meeting

Submitted by COMMITTEES ON SOCIAL SERVICES AND LEGISLATION.

Ms. Kitley and Ms. Perez presented the report and the Local Law and moved that the report be received, filed and approved and the Local Law adopted, which motion was carried by the following vote.

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
AYES:Catherine Parker, John G. Testa, Nancy Barr, Catherine Borgia, Gordon A. Burrows, Terry A. Clements, Kitley Covill, Margaret A Cunzio, Christopher Johnson, Michael Kaplowitz, Damon Maher, Virginia Perez, MaryJane Shimsky, David J. Tubiolo, Alfreda Williams, Lyndon Williams, Benjamin Boykin