On Tuesday, the New York legislature voted to ban conversion therapy on minors and to protect transgender people against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) also adds protections on the basis of gender identity to New York’s state hate crimes law.
The Assembly has passed the GENDA bill every year since 2008, however it has been a 16-year battle to get it through the Senate, where Republicans held the majority for the past ten years. Democrats finally took control of the Senate in January.
The bills will now go to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign, making New York the 15th state to ban conversion therapy.
Senator Brad Hoylman, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that conversion therapy is "among the worst frauds in history."
"The State of New York has a responsibility to stop licensed mental health professionals from causing irreparable damage to LGBT youth and their families. ... At a time when the laws of this country are beginning to embrace the LGBT community, we must also do everything we can to nurture and protect our children as they discover their identities," he added.
“Today’s historic action in New York is the result of years of hard work and it is a vivid illustration of the importance of electing pro-equality lawmakers,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement.
“Due to the efforts of countless advocates and leaders, transgender New Yorkers will now be explicitly protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and LGBTQ youth will be protected from the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called conversion therapy. This is a monumental day for fairness and equality across the Empire State.”
Also this week, Vice president Mike Pence’s wife Karen Pence returned to a teaching position at Immanuel Christian School in Northern Virginia, a private primary school she previously taught for 12 years. Under its employment agreement, the school designed for “parents who are born-again, Bible-believing Christians” requires applicants to agree that God intends marriage to be between a man and a woman. It also states unmarried couples should not live together, have any sexual activity outside of marriage and employees should not change their gender identity.
Under the Parent’s Agreement, the school can “refuse admission to an applicant or discontinue enrolment of students who participate in, support or condone "sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity." The school also can refuse admission based on similar "activities of a parent or guardian" or "within a particular home."
Mrs Pence is not taking any criticism of her decision to return to the school. Her spokeswoman said in a statement to the media: "Mrs. Pence has returned to the school where she previously taught for 12 years. It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack."