NYS New Regulation and Bill Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors

NYAPRS Note: NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued new regulations banning gender identity conversion therapy for children and youth in OMH facilities and barring insurers from paying for it (joining the state’s Medicaid program). State legislators are moving to put such a ban into statute. See below for NYAPRS’ letter of support for the bill and for an article in this month’s OMH News about the regulatory changes.

NYAPRS lauds the Cuomo Administration for protecting the rights and choices of New Yorkers around gender entity and joins many other state advocacy groups in pushing for passage of this legislation.


Senate Bill 121/Assembly Bill 4958 (Holyman, Glick)

AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to prohibiting mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under the age of eighteen years and expanding the definition of professional misconduct with respect to mental health professionals.

The New York Association for Psychiatric and Rehabilitative Services (NYAPRS), a state-wide coalition that represent thousands of New Yorkers with serious mental health conditions and more than 100 community health service agencies, offers our very strong support for Senate Bill 121 by Hoylman/Assembly Bill A.4958 by Assemblymember Glick.

Our mission is to improve services and social conditions for people with psychiatric disabilities or diagnoses, and those with trauma-related conditions by promoting their recovery, rehabilitation and rights so that all people can participate freely in the opportunities of society.

This mission ties us inextricably to the rights of those who need a voice in the process of recovery and often rely upon the public good to provide adequate and appropriate psychiatric care—and included therein is a responsibility to help ensure that mental health services are sound in their application.

So-called sexual orientation ‘conversion therapy” has been roundly discredited by major medical and professional organizations. We wish to stand with the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers among others who have repudiated the practice. We support the assertion that efforts to convert the sexual orientation of a minor exposes them to harmful consequences such as depression, self-loathing and suicidality.

Further in this regard, we echo our Commissioner of Mental Health, Ann Marie T. Sullivan, M.D., who rightly states that “homosexuality, bisexuality, or living as transgender, are not mental disorders and they should not be treated as such… we aim to protect the inalienable right of self-determination for New York youth, reducing the trauma this so-called [conversion] treatment can produce in the LGBT community, and helping to end the stigma that has been associated with being LGBT for far too long.”

We laud the recent, far-reaching steps taken by Governor Cuomo to help stamp out this disastrous practice. Specifically, his actions include banning insurance coverage for conversion therapy to minors, prohibiting any mental health facility licensed, funded or operated by the New York State Office of Mental Health from providing said therapy to minors and prohibiting Medicaid coverage for the practice.

These steps light the way to further protecting our youth from this egregious practice with the codification into law of such an important measure as enhancing the definition of professional misconduct. Therefore, it is imperative for us to stand in support of this bill which would further define professional misconduct of a mental health professional to include any practice that engages a minor in a sexual orientation change effort.

We wish to express our overwhelming support for Senate Bill 121/Assembly Bill 4958. Thank you.


Regulations: Banning ‘Conversion Therapy’

OMH News June 2, 2016

“Homosexuality, bisexuality, or living as transgender, are not mental disorders and they should not be treated as such,” said OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan.

“With our actions, we aim to protect the inalienable right of self-determination for New York youth, reducing the trauma this so called treatment can produce in the LGBTQ community, and helping to end the stigma that has been associated with being LGBTQ for far too long,” she added.

Unlawful and Not Covered

Under new regulations, conversion therapy is unlawful at any mental health facility or agency that is licensed, funded, or operated by OMH. Failure to comply with these new regulations could result in the revocation of their license, funding, or both.

In a similar manner, the New York State Department of Financial Services has issued regulations barring insurers in New York State from providing coverage for conversion therapy given to an individual under the age of 18, while the New York State Department of Health now prohibits conversion therapy under New York’s Medicaid program.

Insurers must tell participating behavioral health providers that conversion therapy should not be provided to minors and that insurers won’t provide reimbursement. As part of the insurers’ provider credentialing or application and re-credentialing processes, insurers are advised to require behavioral health providers to certify that they will not provide conversion therapy to minors or seek reimbursement from the insurer for such services.

Discredited and Harmful

Conversion therapy, intended to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, has been discredited as ineffective and even harmful to young people by medical and mental health professionals, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American School Counselor Association, National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers.

"Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for," said Governor Andrew Cuomo, announcing the regulations.

"New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBTQ young people for simply being who they are.”

The Human Rights Campaign praised the decision by Cuomo, calling him the first governor to use his executive authority to block conversion therapy. "No young person should be coerced or subjected to this dangerous so-called therapy, which has been linked to youth substance abuse, depression, homelessness, and even suicide," said Campaign President Chad Griffin.

The definition of “conversion therapy” doesn’t include counseling or therapy for an individual seeking to make a transition from one gender to another gender, that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of an individual or the facilitation of an individual’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices — provided that the counseling or therapy does not seek to change sexual orientation or gender identity.