ConversionTherapySigningSMALLEROctober 18, 2018 – Joined by advocates, students and survivors, County Executive George Latimer signed into law a measure that bans the practice of conversion therapy on minors.

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation. This measure was introduced to the Board of Legislators directly by Latimer and passed the Board unanimously, 17-0.

According to American Psychiatric Association (APA), “same-sex orientation should not, and does not, need to be changed.” Further, the APA states that “efforts to do so represents a significant risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated and undermines self-esteem.”

In a letter from the Psychiatric Society of Westchester to Latimer, the society wrote: “Long-term consequences of ‘conversion therapy’ include increased risk of depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, social withdrawal, and self-loathing. The Westchester Psychiatric Society thanks you for your leadership on this important issue and urges its passage and enactment.”

Latimer said: “I am proud to sign this measure into law on LGBTQ Spirit Day – a day meant to bring awareness to the disproportionate level of harassment faced by LGBTQ Youth. This practice is not acceptable, it is not legal and it is not right. We will make sure we do not stand for that here in Westchester County.”

Co-founder of the “Born Perfect” Campaign Mathew Shurka said: “I am really proud to see Westchester County pass this bill as it hits close to home for me. As someone who went through this treatment for five years, this means a lot. I am one of 700,000 people in the U.S. who have been through conversion therapy, and it’s estimated that at least 57,000 teenagers will go through this in the next five years. This bill helps bring that number closer to zero.”

Westchester County LGBTQ Advisory Board Chair Christopher Oldi said: “This is a great day in Westchester. For County Executive Latimer to sign this into law, on LGBTQ Spirit Day no less, is both a powerful real and symbolic action to the LGBTQ Community of Westchester, that they have an ally in Westchester County government.”

Yonkers City Council Majority Leader and Westchester County LGBTQ Advisory Board Member said Michael Sabatino: “The practice of Conversion Therapy is abhorrent – plain and simple. I thank County Executive Latimer for his efforts to not only introduce this measure, but to sign it into law today. LGBTQ youth need to know that they are heard in this County, and this law puts enforcement behind that sentiment.”

Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs & Diversity Programs and LGBTQ Coordinator at Pace University Rachel M. Simon said: "The practice of conversion therapy is in direct conflict with the mission of inclusion and personal development advanced by community-based LGBTQA centers, as well as those at colleges and universities throughout the Lower Hudson Valley. I am thrilled that the Board of Legislators unanimously passed this bill, and I commend County Executive Latimer for signing it into law as a sign of the work Westchester County is doing to support queer youth."