At issue: Who decides on reparative therapy for minors?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Charlie Butts (

New York lawmakers are considering a bill to ban reparative therapy for minors with same-gender attractions. While there is a strong push for it, proponents might not be pushing hard enough.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms refers to the measure as "the counselor coercion bill" because it forbids counselors, including Christian ones, from providing the therapy.

"It assumes that reparative therapy is harmful," explains NYCF spokesman Stephen Hayford, "and [also assumes] that it's something that we need to have government get involved in to protect people from."

But Hayford points out such therapy does work and argues the bill denies youth with unwanted same-gender attractions and their parents from electing to pursue the therapy.


"We also believe that there's a constitutional concern here when government starts getting between counselors and their clients," he adds, explaining that under the legislation "the government's going to decide which perspective on a sensitive issue like adolescent sexuality is the correct one and then heavy handedly legislate in ways that silence one perspective on that issue."

NYCF says decisions about the type of professional counseling that should be available to youth shouldn't be made by the state – and the state shouldn't forbid professional counselors from offering help and hope to their clients.

If Bill S.4971-A / A.6983-A passes this week in the Assembly, it will go to the Senate where Hayford says there will be a better chance of killing the bill. Similar laws passed in New Jersey and California have been challenged in the courts.

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