Last week, Albany Update reported on the Erie County Legislature’s recent passage of the Criminalizing Hope Bill (LL Intro. 5-2), which would make it a crime—punishable by up to a year in prison—to provide reparative therapy for a client under age 18.
Since then, hundreds of our friends have used our Action Center to express their concerns to Members of the Erie County Legislature and to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. In addition, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms wrote to County Executive Poloncarz and urged him to veto this measure. We informed County Executive Poloncarz that reparative therapy is not harmful to young people, and therapy can be effective in helping clients to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. Many people—especially teens—experience some level of change in their sexual identity, whether or not they seek it; in addition, many young people who experience gender dysphoria go on to self-identify as their biological sex when they become adults. There is nothing hazardous about discussing the possibility of change.
In our letter, we presented the following hypothetical scenarios to the County Executive:
- A 14-year-old girl tells her parents that she is sexually attracted to other girls. She is connected with a married woman from her church who formerly identified as a lesbian, but experienced change in her sexual identity after becoming a Christian. The married woman meets with the girl on an ongoing basis to help her resolve her unwanted same-sex attractions.
- Roman Catholic parents are referred to a certified a life coach seeking assistance for their 15-year-old son, who is attracted to males and is addicted to pornography. The life coach guides the son toward a new perspective on sexuality that allows him to experience attraction to females.
- Two parents inform a rabbi at their Orthodox synagogue that their seven-year-old son is experiencing gender dysphoria. A licensed mental health professional meets with the boy regularly to help him become comfortable with his biological sex.
Despite our concerns, Mr. Poloncarz chose political correctness over good public policy. Turning his back to many of his constituents, Poloncarz signed the legislation into law on March 5, 2018. Under this local law, persons such as those assisting the young people described above could be prosecuted, convicted, and thrown in jail.
NYCF will continue to fight against proposals such as this whenever and wherever they appear across our great state.