New York Senate, Assembly Pass Bill to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2019

Contact:
Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director
lgray@nclrights.org / 215-983-3099

New York Senate and Assembly Pass Bill to Prohibit Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ Youth

Once signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York will become the 15th state to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and the first state to prohibit the practice in 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. — Today, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed S1046/A576, a bill that protects LGBTQ youth from the practice of conversion therapy. Born Perfect, The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ campaign to end conversion therapy, has worked on the ground since 2013 to advocate for the passage of this landmark bill to stop this harmful and discredited practice. Born Perfect is proud of the work Senator Brad Hoylman, the bill’s sponsor, has done to elevate the voices of survivors and to ensure that New York protects its youth.

“After six years working alongside Assemblymember Glick and Senator Hoylman, I’m proud to see this bill pass for the first time by the New York State Senate. The trauma inflicted on me by conversion therapy is now illegal. This law will save many lives. What’s important now is to ensure that this law is enforced, as we know licensed conversion therapists continue to practice throughout the state” said conversion therapy survivor and Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka.  “I look forward to Governor Cuomo signing the bill into law to finally protect LGBTQ youth – a promise he made in 2015, and a promise he said he’d fulfill in the first 100 days of 2019.”

Born and raised in New York, Shurka was subjected to conversion therapy as a minor in Manhattan. Seeing four different licensed therapists over a period of five years, Shurka was separated from his mother and sisters in an effort to “de-feminize” him in order to change his sexual orientation—an experience that resulted in severe trauma, anxiety, depression, and suicidality.

Also referred to as “ex-gay therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” conversion therapy attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The ineffective and dangerous practice has been discredited by the American Psychological Association—and every other major professional health and mental organization—and can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide.  According to the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, nearly 700,000 people in the United States have been subjected to conversion therapy, and half of those were minors. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that adolescents subjected to conversion therapy were significantly more likely to attempt suicide.  

Once the bill is signed into law, New York will be the 15th state to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. Media outlets have previously misreported that New York State passed a ban on conversion therapy, mistaking Governor Cuomo’s 2016 Executive Order—which barred health care insurers from supporting conversion therapy—as legislation that fully prohibited conversion therapy statewide.

Today’s bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by NCLR, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and local advocacy groups.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Delaware Becomes 14th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2018
Contact:
Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director
lgray@nclrights.org / 215-983-3099

CONVERSION THERAPY SURVIVOR AND NCLR BORN PERFECT STRATEGIST MATHEW SHURKA SAYS, “DELAWARE IS NOW A SAFER PLACE FOR LGBTQ YOUTH, AND WE ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO PROTECTING LGBTQ YOUTH NATIONWIDE”

WILMINGTON, Del. — Today, Delaware Governor John Carney signed into law SB 65, legislation that protects LGBTQ youth from the practice of conversion therapy. Every major medical and mental health organization has denounced conversion therapy as both harmful and ineffective. Delaware State Senators Debra Heffernan and Harris McDowell, III sponsored this legislation and worked with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) to draft. NCLR has been standing up on behalf of survivors of conversion therapy for the past 20 years. In 2014, NCLR launched Born Perfect, a campaign to end conversion therapy nationwide.

“Today, Delaware took a stand to protect LGBTQ youth from harmful ineffective conversion therapy,” said conversion therapy survivor and NCLR Born Perfect Strategist Mathew Shurka. “Delaware is now a safer place for LGBTQ youth, and we are one step closer to protecting LGBTQ youth nationwide.”

Conversion therapy—also referred to as “ex-gay therapy” or “reparative therapy”— attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been shown to lead to higher instances of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.

Through the Born Perfect campaign, NCLR has secured legislation protecting youth from these dangerous practices in 14 states. Momentum to stop conversion therapy is growing. With Delaware’s bill signing, 2018 just broke a record for the number of states (five) to pass and sign laws prohibiting conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth in one year.

Today’s bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), local advocacy group Equality Delaware, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). This legislation was also publicly supported by The Trevor Project.  


The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

NCLR Protects LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy with New Toolkits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2018
Contact: Lauren Gray, NCLR
lgray@nclrights.org / 215-983-3099

NCLR LAUNCHES TOOLKITS TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH IN JUVENILE JUSTICE AND CHILD WELFARE SYSTEMS FROM CONVERSION THERAPY

NCLR SAYS, “WHILE A CHILD IS IN THE CARE OF THE STATE, IT IS CRITICAL THAT STATE SYSTEMS ENSURE THEY ARE PROTECTED FROM THIS HARM”

SAN FRANCISCO—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) today released two toolkits for child welfare and juvenile justice agency employees on how to protect LGBTQ youth from the serious harm caused by conversion therapy. Conversion therapy, sometimes called “ex-gay therapy,” is an attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity and has been debunked by every major medical and mental health organization in the U.S. Ending Conversion Therapy in Child Welfare and Ending Conversion Therapy in Juvenile Justice help state agencies recognize how and when LGBTQ youth may be subjected to conversion therapy while in the care of the state, explain the negative impact of conversion therapy and its close relationship to family rejection, and include tips and model language about how to develop policies protecting LGBTQ youth from these harms.

“From social workers and foster parents to probation officers and facility chaplains, these toolkits are designed to assist child welfare and juvenile justice agencies with protecting youth from harmful, ineffective conversion therapy,” said NCLR Youth Policy Counsel and Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator Carolyn Reyes. “Conversion therapy has been denounced by every major medical and mental health organization and has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide. While a child is in the care of the State, it is critical that State systems ensure they are protected from this harm.”

These toolkits include:

  • Statisitcs regarding the negative health and mental health outcomes for LGBTQ youth who experience conversion therapy as severe family rejection
  • Fact sheet explaining conversion therapy, outlining its harms and what is being done to end the practice
  • Policy and position statements by 16 major medical and mental health associations condemning conversion therapy
  • Tips for developing child welfare and juvenile justice policies protecting youth from conversion therapy
  • Examples of provisions protecting youth from conversion therapy from 22 state agencies
  • Model policy protecting youth from conversion therapy
  • Model comprehensive LGBTQ policy with provisions addressing conversion therapy
  • Organizational and social science resources on conversion therapy, as well as resources for survivors of these practices

For the past 20 years, NCLR has been working closely with conversion therapy survivors to end these harmful practices. In 2014, NCLR launched its Born Perfect campaign, which is committed to ending conversion therapy nationwide. Through the Born Perfect campaign, conversion therapy is now prohibited in 13 states (California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia. In Delaware, anti-conversion therapy legislation has passed and is awaiting signature by the governor.


The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Hawaii is 12th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2018
Contact:
Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director
lgray@nclrights.org / (215) 983-3099

HAWAII NOW THE 12TH STATE TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY

NCLR’S MATHEW SHURKA TESTIFIED DURING HAWAII’S LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS AND SAID TODAY, “AS A SURVIVOR, I KNOW HOW HARMFUL CONVERSION THERAPY CAN BE, AND I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER THAT HAWAII HAS TAKEN THIS IMPORTANT STEP TO PROTECT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ITS LGBTQ YOUTH”

HONOLULU—Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a bill sponsored by Hawaii Senator Stanley Chang into law today that will protect Hawaii youth from the practice of conversion therapy by health professionals. Conversion therapy, sometimes called “ex-gay therapy,” attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and has been discredited by every major medical and mental health organization as an ineffective and harmful practice. The practice of conversion therapy by licensed professionals against minors has now been prohibited by 12 states and the District of Columbia, and there is a growing movement across the country to end conversion therapy nationally.

“There are currently more than 700,000 survivors nationally, and an estimated 77,000 teenagers across the country will be subjected to conversion therapy over the next five years,” said NCLR Born Perfect Strategist Mathew Shurka. “As a survivor, I know how harmful conversion therapy can be, and I could not be happier that Hawaii has taken this important step to protect the health and safety of its LGBTQ youth from this terrible practice.”

TESTIMONY

During Hawaii’s legislative hearings on this issue, a number of conversion therapy survivors and Hawaii youth spoke out in favor the legislation and against conversion therapy:

Dillard Slay
Twenty-four year-old Dillard Slay was 13 years old when his grandparents sent him to a conversion therapy camp in northern Georgia. He was being treated for “effeminate behavior.” Slay’s search for safety, stability, and job opportunity, led him to enlist in the military, and today, he is living in Hawaii and working as a U.S. Navy Nuclear Reactor Operator.

Andria Kirk
Seventeen year-old Andrea Kirk shared stories about a number of her friends being threatened with conversion therapy after coming out to their families. Kirk stated that she wants to protect herself and her peers from ever being subjected to conversion therapy. She is a junior at Myron B Thompson Academy, Hawaii, identifies as queer-lesbian, is in a band, and is passionate about equal rights and criminal justice.

William Fritts
Eighteen year-old William Fritts is a recent graduate from Assets High School. Fritts engages in local LGBTQ activism work and has spoken to faculty at four local schools about LGBTQ bullying.

Mathew Shurka
Twenty-nine year-old Mathew Shurka was 16 years old when he began conversion therapy in New York City. He was subjected to conversion therapy for five years across four states: New York, New Jersey, California, and Virginia. Shurka now lives in New York City and works as an advocate to protect other LGBTQ youth from conversion as NCLR’s Born Perfect Strategist. Shurka was the only survivor to testify at these hearings who lives on the mainland rather than in the state of Hawaii.

Today’s bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), local advocacy group the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). 


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Maryland Now 11th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy: NCLR Statement

OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2018
Contact:
Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director
lgray@nclrights.org / (215) 983-3099

MARYLAND BECOMES 11TH STATE TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY

CONVERSION THERAPY SURVIVOR AND NCLR BORN PERFECT STRATEGIST MATHEW SHURKA SAYS, “BY SHARING OUR STORIES, SURVIVORS LIKE MEAGAN SIMONAIRE AND MYSELF CAN HELP CHANGE HEARTS AND MINDS TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Maryland Governor Larry Hogan today signed a bill into law that will protect Maryland youth from the practice of conversion therapy by health professionals. Conversion therapy, sometimes called “ex-gay therapy,” attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and has been discredited by every major medical and mental health organization as an ineffective and harmful practice. On April 4, Maryland Republican Delegate Meagan Simonaire made headlines when she took to the floor of Maryland’s House of Delegates to give an impassioned speech about the harm that resulted in her own life when her family, including father state senator Bryan Simonaire, sought conversion therapy for her.

Today’s bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), local Maryland LGBTQ advocacy group FreeState Justice, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). NCLR has been standing up on behalf of survivors of conversion therapy for the past 20 years, and in 2014, launched its Born Perfect campaign—marking a commitment to end this practice in each state across the country.

NCLR Youth Policy Counsel and Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator Carolyn Reyes issued the following statement in response: “Today, Maryland, nicknamed the ‘Free State,’ just signed a bill into law to ensure LGBTQ youth can be free from harmful, ineffective attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity through conversion therapy. Right now, there is a growing movement across the country. Maryland, and many other states, are taking action to protect youth from what the American Psychological Association has shown puts our youth at an increased risk of depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. We will keep fighting until all of our youth are protected, no matter where they live.”

Conversion therapy survivor and NCLR Born Perfect Campaign Strategist Mathew Shurka issued the following statement in response: “By sharing our stories, survivors like Meagan Simonaire and myself can help change hearts and minds to protect LGBTQ youth. Today, the state of Maryland took an important step to ensure that all of Maryland’s young people know that they are born perfect.”


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Washington Law Protects LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2018
Contact: Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director
lgray@nclrights.org / 215-983-3099

NCLR’s Born Perfect Campaign Successful in Efforts to Prohibit Conversion Therapy in the state of Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash.—Today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law SB 5722, legislation that protects LGBTQ youth from the fraudulent, harmful and debunked practice of “conversion therapy.” Today’s bill signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Equal Rights Washington. NCLR has been a tireless advocate on behalf of survivors of conversion therapy for the past 20 years, and in 2014, launched its Born Perfect campaign—making a commitment to a state-by-state advocacy campaign to end this practice in each state across the country.

National Center for Lesbian Rights Youth Policy Counsel and Born Perfect Campaign Director Carolyn Reyes issued the following statement in response:

“Today we applaud Washington state Governor Jay Inslee’s decision to sign into law SB 5722. We are heartened by the progress made by legislators to uphold the safety, health, and well-being of LGBTQ individuals in Washington state. We know that few practices hurt LGBTQ youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through the debunked practice of ‘conversion therapy.’ Washington is an example for the rest of the country by recognizing every child knows they are born perfect.”

Sometimes referred to as “ex-gay therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” conversion therapy are harmful practices that attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity via physical or cognitive behavioral techniques. Conversion therapy has been shown to lead to higher instances of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide, leading these practices to be condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the United States, including the American Psychological Association.

NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. Through the Born Perfect campaign, NCLR helped to pass 36 municipal ordinances in several states (FL, OH, PA, NY, AZ, WA) and secured legislation protecting youth from these dangerous practices in California in 2012, New Jersey in 2013, Washington, D.C. in 2014, Oregon and Illinois in 2015, Vermont in 2016, and Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, and Rhode Island in 2017.

NCLR thanks Washington Senator Marko Liias for introducing SB 5722.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.