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Letter: More should follow suit, ban conversion therapy

More should follow suit, ban conversion therapy

The National Association of Social Workers has been a longtime partner in the fight to end conversion therapy and we applaud County Executive Mark Poloncarz for signing a law making the practice illegal in Erie County.

Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy,” has never been proven effective by any scientific or empirical evidence. We join many mainstream medical and mental health organizations in coming out against this type of counseling and warning of the practice’s lifelong detrimental consequences – including increased risk of depression, suicidal ideation and substance abuse.

But discrediting so-called conversion therapy is not enough. To this day, there are still practitioners who continue to conduct this outdated therapy, and our profession continues to encounter individuals who have been forcefully subjected to these emotionally scarring interventions.

Which is why this law is so important. By making conversion therapy illegal, we are removing any possibility of legitimizing this scientifically discredited and dangerous practice, as well as putting an end to perpetuating the false message that identities that do not subscribe to cis-normative and heteronormative standards are a problem that need to be fixed – or worse, erased.

We hope to see many legislators and public officials follow Poloncarz and pass legislation to protect the next generation of New Yorkers.

Samantha Howell

Executive Director

New York State Chapter

National Association of Social Workers

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