LGBT Youth Sensitivity Bill Advances In State Senate

On March 21, Bill S.277-Hoylman/A.2662-Ortiz—the LGBT Youth Sensitivity Bill—was approved by the Senate Children and Families Committee and referred to the Senate Finance Committee by a vote of 7-0. This bill is described as “AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to expanding the duties of the office of children and family services concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender runaway and homeless youth.”

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms opposes this legislation. While we agree that youth homelessness is a problem that deserves the state’s attention, and while we also agree that mistreatment of any youth—regardless of the reason for the mistreatment—is unacceptable, we believe that this legislation is needless and counterproductive. We have several concerns.

First of all, NYCF firmly believes that it is inappropriate for the State of New York to categorize underaged youth with sexual identity labels, even if those youth are using such labels themselves. The age of consent to sexual activity in the State of New York is 17. A young person who has not reached the age of consent should not be placed in a category that relates to sexuality.

Second, it is not necessary for the Office of Children and Family Services to categorize youth based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. The issues faced by runaway and homeless youth will likely be consistent, regardless of the asserted sexual orientation or gender identity of those youth. The Office of Children and Family Services “serves New York’s public by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of our children, families and communities.” Rather than wasting time and money training sessions that instruct state employees on the preferred terminology of LGBT advocates, the OCFS should focus on fulfilling its purpose.

Third, NYCF has deep concerns that the proposed regulations called for by this legislation will be similar to other extreme and coercive regulations that have been implemented by the Cuomo administration.

Finally, the State of New York should avoid promoting same-sex activity or gender-dysphoric behavior in its dealings with vulnerable youth.

NYCF calls upon Members of the Senate and the Assembly to stop this legislation in its tracks.