When an LGBT-agenda bill fails to gain traction in Albany, LGBT advocates sometimes work to advance similar bills in counties and cities around the state. For example, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA)—also known as the Bathroom Bill—has languished in Albany for over a decade. During that time, however, similar local laws have passed in several cities and counties. While LGBT advocates are certainly pleased with these local laws in and of themselves, advocates can also use these local laws to argue for the passage of GENDA based upon the (dubious) claim that there is broad public support for pro-transgender legislation.
LGBT advocates are using a similar approach regarding the Counselor Coercion Bill. As many readers are aware, the Counselor Coercion Bill (S.7010-Hoylman/A.3358-Gottfried) would ban mental health professionals from assisting teen clients in overcoming unwanted same-sex attraction. While this bill has stalled in the New York State Senate for several years, similar bills have passed in Erie County and in New York City in recent months. (Incidentally, the sponsor of Erie County’s reprehensible ban on reparative therapy, Democratic Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke, is now running for Assembly in District 142.) Now, reports indicate that Counselor Coercion legislation is advancing in both Albany County and Ulster County.
Albany County and Ulster County residents, please contact your respective county legislators and speak out against these destructive proposals. It would also be a good time to remind state legislators that Counselor Coercion legislation is a bad idea. No young person should be barred from obtaining professional help to address the difficult problem of unwanted same-sex attraction.
Here are some talking points that may be helpful to you:
- Sexual orientation change is experienced by many people during the course of their lives, whether or not they seek it.
- Research indicates that genetics do not determine sexual orientation. See Jones, Stanton L. “Same-Sex Science.” First Things, February 2012.
- Many people have resolved unwanted same-sex attraction. The experiences of people who have changed can’t be dismissed.
- Research indicates that sexual orientation change efforts can be helpful and effective for people who are motivated to pursue them. See Jones, Stanton L. & Yarhouse, Mark A. (2011). “A longitudinal study of attempted religiously-mediated sexual orientation change.” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Volume 37, pages 404-427.
- The American Psychological Association has said that there is “no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation.” Given the APA’s uncertainty about the causes of same-sex attraction, how can it be sure whether therapy can help people to change?
- When it comes to young people and change therapy, the state should follow principles of professional therapy availability, client autonomy, and parental involvement.
- New York State should protect children and young people. Forbidding mental health professionals in New York from offering help and hope to teens with unwanted same-sex attraction does not protect anyone.
- New York State should respect religious freedom and freedom of conscience. This bill would override the religious freedom of minor clients who desire help in resolving unwanted same-sex attraction.
- Like every other young person, a youth experiencing same-sex attraction needs love, compassion, and acceptance. Loving and accepting a teen with same-sex attraction does not require a parent to affirm their child’s adoption of an LGBT identity, or to approve of behaviors that violate the parent’s beliefs.