NDP LGBTQ critic Cheri DiNovo introduces ground-breaking protections for LGBTQ youth
QUEEN’S PARK — NDP LGBTQ critic Cheri DiNovo introduced new legislation today to protect youth from therapy aimed at preventing them from growing up to be LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual or queer).
DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale-High Park, was inspired to introduce the historic legislation by the tragic suicide of Ohio trans teen Leelah Alcorn.
On December 28, 17-year-old Alcorn left a suicide note posted on her blog, and walked to her death in front of a tractor trailer.
“Alcorn’s suicide note explained how her parents rejected her, and then took her to therapists who rejected her – therapists who tried to ‘fix’ her,” said DiNovo. “Alcorn’s final words were, ‘Fix society. Please.’ This bill is our effort to fix society and protect LGBTQ youth.”
DiNovo’s ground-breaking Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act will affirm the self-identified sexual orientation and gender identity of youth.
Research shows that family support for youth’s self-identified sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression is key to a young person’s well-being and safety. When youth have strong parental support for their gender identity, their risk for suicide drops by 93%.
The bill would prevent any attempt to change or direct the sexual orientation or the gender identity of patients and prohibits such efforts from being an insured service covered by OHIP. The bill would also prohibit such efforts from being carried out as part of health care services to patients under 18 years of age and makes it an offence to do so.
Efforts to “cure homosexuality” have been heavily criticized for decades, and were declared unethical by the American Psychiatric Association and the US National Association of Social Workers in 2000. In 2012, the State of California made treatment to prevent homosexuality illegal.
“If passed, this bill will make Ontario a leader in the protection of at-risk LGBTQ youth,” said DiNovo.
Media contact: Andrea Houston, 416-409-9670
What the experts are saying:
“We need more dialogue around helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Such legislation is deeply needed and will certainly help countless LGBT youth, a population whose mental and physical health and well-being are at-risk.”
– Dr. Joey Bonifacio, pediatrician, adolescent medicine specialist and lead at the Transgender Youth Clinic at SickKids
“This proposed legislation is groundbreaking. MPP Cheri Dinovo is sending a strong message to health and mental health practitioners in this province: ‘If your practice does not respect gender diversity, if in fact, you insist on treating gender diversity in young people as a disorder to be cured or prevented, then you will no longer have the use of public funds to do so.’ This bill is the first step in bringing OHIP funding in line with our new Ontario Human Rights protections for gender identity and gender expression.”
– Jake Pyne, Trudeau Scholar, and researcher in Social Work and Gender Studies at McMaster University
“We can no longer continue to ignore the extremely high rates of suicide and homelessness among LGBTQ youth. I fully support this bill, as it will help prevent LGBTQ youth from continuously being rejected by family and medical professionals, which leads directly to homelessness.”
-Dr. Alex Abramovich Postdoctoral Fellow, CAMH
“Having legislation in place that protects LGBTQ youth from harmful interventions in the health care and social service systems would not only assist these youth in getting the affirmative, supportive and sensitive care they are seeking, but it would hold health care and social service practitioners to account in ensuring ethical interventions when working with these populations. Such legislation would also provide the kind of public policy needed to support the recently announced Position Statement on the Affirmation of Gender Diverse Children and Youth, jointly released by the Canadian Association of Social Workers and the Canadian Association for Social Work Education that identifies any attempt to restrict or alter a child or youth’s gender identity or expression as ‘harmful … unethical, and an abuse of power and authority.’ Such precedent-setting legislation would be most welcome here in Ontario and could be a potential model for the rest of Canada and beyond.”
-Nick Mulé, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, York University
“Treatment aimed at trying to change a person’s gender identity and expression […] is no longer considered ethical.”
– The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
“Conversion or reparative therapy, where attempts are made to turn gay males or lesbians into heterosexuals, are clearly unethical and should not be provided by physicians, nor should physicians refer patients for such therapy.”
– The Canadian Paediatric Society
“The Canadian Psychological Association affirms that all adolescent and adult persons have the right to define their own gender identity regardless of chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role. Moreover, all adolescent and adult persons have the right to free expression of their self-defined gender identity.”
– Canadian Psychological Association
“APA calls upon psychologists in their professional roles to provide appropriate, nondiscriminatory treatment to transgender and gender variant individuals and encourages psychologists to take a leadership role in working against discrimination towards transgender and gender variant individuals.”
– American Psychological Association
“Worldwide we can see efforts to depathologize gender non-conformity on medical, therapeutic, judicial and social levels. Efforts to remove gender non-conformity from all formal disease classification systems and to call a halt to continuing ineffective and harmful medical or mental health efforts to change such identities or expressions of gender must continue.”
– International Federation of Social Workers
Ontario’s educators already use affirmation and acceptance in supporting LGBTQ youth. New guidelines from the Toronto District School Board:
“If a student talks to you about their gender identity, listen in a respectful and non-judgmental way,” the guidelines say. “Do not … pressure them into any particular category. Support them in developing their own understanding of their gender and direct them to resources for transgender, gender nonconforming and questioning youth.”
A recent joint statement by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS) and the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) declares that: “Any professional’s attempt to alter the gender identity or expression of a young person to align with social norms is considered unethical and an abuse of power and authority.”
Psychology Today released a statement saying the publication does not endorse or publish ads for ‘reparative therapy’ in print, online or in professionals’ profiles. “The Therapy Directory has removed the individual whose profile included a discussion of conversion therapy. We have informed all Directory professionals that those whose profiles offer conversion therapy will be delisted. “.