CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY

SENATE

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Senate was called to order at 3: 35 o'clock p. m. , the President in the Chair.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will come to order. Ladies and gentleman, members and guests, please rise. Direct your attention to Rabbi Lazowski, who will lead us in prayer.

RABBI LAZOWSKI:

Thank you, dear. Our thought for today is from the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 2, verse 13. “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.

Let us pray. Gracious God, look in favor upon this circle of Senators and staff. Provide them with wisdom and fortitude to blaze new trails where we may walk courageously and with love in our hearts. Help us to face our problems and give us strength to rise above them. Out of chaos let the light of faith illuminate our pathway. Out of darkness let the light of love ennoble humanity and mankind may once again walk together in the path of dignity. Bless our Senators and our nation. Give your protection to our defenders of freedom. Hear us as we pray and let us all say Amen.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Rabbi. At this time I ask Senator Somers to come up and lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, please.

SENATOR SOMERS (18TH):

(All)I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

THE CHAIR:

Rabbi, thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. At this time, Mr. Clerk, is there anything on your desk?

CLERK:

In addition to today's calendar I have Senate Agenda No. 1. It's dated Wednesday, May 10, 2017. It's been copied and should be on Senators' desks.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Duff, Good afternoon.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I move that all items on Senate Agenda No. 1, dated Wednesday, May 10, 2017, be acted upon as indicated and that the Agenda be incorporated by reference into the Senate journal and transcript.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, would -- will you now move to our marking for the day, one of our Bills. If I can ask the Clerk to please call as our order of the day Calendar page 38, Calendar 392, House Bill 6695.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

On page 38, Calendar 392, House Bill 6695, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF YOUTH FROM CONVERSION THERAPY.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Gerratana, good afternoon, ma'am.

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I move acceptance of the Joint Committee's Favorable Report and passage of the Bill with the adoption of House A in concurrence.

THE CHAIR:

Motion is on acceptance and adoption. Will you remark?

SENATOR GERRATANA (6TH):

Thank you, Madam President, I will. The Bill before us prohibits health care practitioners or providers, or anyone else conducting trade or commerce from practicing or administering what is called or referred to as conversion therapy. That is any practice or treatment that seeks to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Bill specifies certain types of counseling that are not considered conversion therapy such as counseling intended to assist a person undergoing gender transition or facilitate a person's identity exploration. Under the Bill, if a health care provider engages in such therapy it is considered unprofessional conduct subject to disciplinary action. If anyone practices or administers conversion therapy while conducting trade or commerce it is deemed -- it is deemed unacceptable.

Finally, the Bill prohibits public funds from being spent for conversion therapy or related actions. The Public Health Committee had a very long hearing on this particular legislation. We all in Public Health Committee unanimously voted passage of the Bill out of that Committee and it's now here before us in the State Senate. At this time, Madam President, I yield the floor to Senator Beth Bye.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye, will you accept the yield, ma'am?

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes, I will. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

I want to thank Senator Gerratana for her leadership on this Bill as well as Representative Currey and other members of the Public Health Committee; also to the coalition of advocates, to the assistance of GLAAD and ACLU, to Anne Stanback, and so many other advocates. I also want to express my gratitude to my colleagues, many sitting around this circle in a bipartisan way, 60 percent of this Chamber has signed on as a co-sponsor to this Bill so it's a very important Bill and I think Senator Gerratana did a good job of explaining the three items -- three key policy items.

I want to take a moment to describe why it's important that we pass this Bill to protect, in most cases, youth in Connecticut from this very dangerous practice that has been repudiated by virtually every human service and mental health provider organization in the state. It is particularly important for minors because this dangerous practice which relies on things like shame and discrediting an individual's gender identity or sexual orientation can have a big impact on minors who are eight times more likely to attempt suicide if their families and others reject their orientation or their gender identity; six times more likely to suffer from depression; three times more likely to use drugs; three times more likely to engage in unprotected sex because of some of the damage that comes from not being accepted for who they are. So I think it's a very important Bill and I hope this Chamber will adopt it. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER (26TH):

Thank you very much, Madam President. I rise to support this Bill and would like to say that this issue rises to recognize that it is very difficult to deny a person's biology and attempts to do so can be very damaging as was just brought up by my colleague, Senator Bye, and particularly damaging for very young people so I'm happy to support this Bill today and hope that we also have a unanimous vote possibly here in the Senate. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

That'd be nice. Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. First I want to begin by complimenting the proponent of the Bill about the laudable intent of the Bill. Conversion therapy can indeed be a real problem when it becomes coercion therapy and so I salute the proponent of the Bill for that, but I do have some questions I would like to put forward to the proponent of the Bill, if I may, Madam President?

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, Senator.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. To the proponent of the Bill, first I just want to clarify the facts of the proposed Bill, or the proposed law that it applies only to minors defined as persons under the age of 18, is that correct?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. It is meant to address minors. I'm going to just take a moment and make sure the Chair of the Public Health --

THE CHAIR:

Senate will stand at ease.

Senate will come back to order. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I wanted to be sure I was 100 percent accurate with the age. Yes, it is 18, Senator Suzio.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again through you, Madam Chair, the object of any disciplinary action or penalty for providing such service or therapy to minors is aimed at licensed health care professionals as I understand it, is that true?

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes, it is for licensed professionals who are compensated for their care.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again through you, Madam President. Now does that mean that if a licensed health care professional were to provide this therapy free of charge that that would not be subject to the sanctions of this Bill? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. This applies to licensed professionals who are paid as therapists. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again through you. Just -- I want to make sure I get the details correct. So normally the licensed health care professionals will be paid for a service they're rendering but if they waive that payment in the provision of a service such as this would that be subject to the sanctions of this Bill?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Madam President, it is my understanding that this is meant to apply to professionals who are paid in the practice of caring for youth and engaging in that practice. There may be others who provide counseling to youth who are not professionals and are not paid as professionals. It does not apply to them but my understanding is that it applies to paid professions. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. Now I also understand that the Bill is not aimed at the parents or the guardians of the minor child who may be receiving such therapy. There is no sanctions or penalties directed towards the parents or the guardians of such minor who receives such therapy? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Through you, yes it does not apply to presidents -- to parents. I want to reiterate, Madam President, that these are professionals who are trained as practitioners and every organization that oversees practitioners of mental health has said this is bad for patients. You can think of it like if somebody was ill with a disease and being treated with something that actually made them more sick, that's the intent here. It's not meant to address parents' rights to maybe offer their opinions to their own children. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again through you, Madam President. If a parent of a minor wanted such therapy to be given to their child and this Bill passes they would not be able to acquire it here in Connecticut, but I understand that some nearby states have not outlawed this practice. Would they be able to take the child to a nearby state where conversion therapy has not been outlawed and transport the child to that location, get the therapy for the service for the child, and then come back to the state? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thanks to the Senator for that question. More and more states are banning conversion therapy and -- but they -- it does not speak to the parents' rights and what they can do. It speaks to professionals within the State of Connecticut. Thank you, Madam President. Through you.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and through you again, Madam President. Regarding the nearby states, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, what laws or regulations do they have pertaining to the practice of conversion therapy? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I have that exact data here but I just need to look for one moment.

THE CHAIR:

Senate will stand at ease.

Senate will come back to order. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. The other states that have passed this legislation to protect children are California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, D. C. , and to the Senator, as well, recently one of these laws was brought to the U. S. Supreme Court which refused to hear the case so it does also have a national footprint in the legal profession. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. So listening to the list of states or jurisdictions that have outlawed or made this practice illegal, I did not hear Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New York, so I presume the practice is still tolerated or allowed there. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Today, but it is my understanding that in the near future these states are likely to adopt this provision as well to protect youth in their states. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and regarding the State of Connecticut and the current situation, I know there was extensive testimony given regarding this proposed Bill. I would ask what information or data or statistics are available regarding the practice in Connecticut? For example, are there any numbers that were submitted as part of the testimony or evidence regarding the practice of conversion therapy in Connecticut? Are there any statistics on its use or practice? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I anecdotally heard of a couple of cases from constituents, but these -- this kind of data is very difficult because there are laws that protect the privacy in a therapeutic, in a medical, in a public health setting appropriately so it's not like there's data out there but I know that I have and a number of friends have heard of very sad stories about children who've been subjected to this kind of therapy and I think that's why all the organizations, mental health and human service organizations, in Connecticut have signed onto this Bill because they believe it's a problem as well. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. Are there any numbers or statistics or information available regarding professionals who have been offering this therapy in Connecticut? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Not that I am aware of personally. I did not sit through all the public hearing testimony. I did see some of it but there certainly are cases. The Bill is before us because this is a problem that mental health professionals have seen in their practice and that others in the gay and lesbian and transgender community have heard about. I know that I, myself, was at a PFLAG meeting just two weeks ago in the Hartford area and had five or six of the people attending there for support come up to me and say this Bill is very important because of some of their past experiences. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. So at this point we don't have any studies or statistics or data pertaining to the practice in Connecticut how many children might have been exposed to it, how many practitioners are practicing the therapy? Is that a correct summary of what we know so far? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

My answer remains as the previous one. I am very clearly aware that this practice exists in Connecticut and is a problem for individuals. I'm also painfully aware of some of the challenges that go on for individuals when important people in their lives try to impress upon them that who they are is not who they are and there are long-term consequences to that. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and through you, Madam President. I read the testimony of all the persons who showed up regarding this Bill and I could identify only one person who testified about having received conversion therapy and that person did not indicate they had received the therapy in Connecticut. They had mentioned they had actually received it on three different continents over 20 some odd years, so I'm just wondering what information -- how do we know other than anecdotal evidence here or there that the practice is actually being conducted here in Connecticut? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. From mental health associations, from human service organizations, from personal stories I have heard from constituents and I'm sure many of my colleagues who signed on have as well. I think it would be unfair to expect an individual who's had a traumatizing experience, who's dealing with a family rejection of who they are perhaps, to come out at a public hearing and be on TV to testify to that effect, so it's very clear to me that this is a real and present problem in Connecticut and that we can be a leader as if we pass this and other states look to our law as an example. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. We also do not know, at least I don't understand, if there's any studies that have been conducted by Yale -- academic institutions such as Yale, professional medical organizations, regarding this practice in Connecticut. There's no study that I'm aware of. Did the Committee become aware of such a study and, if so, what did that study indicate regarding -- I'm not talking about the specifics of whether it's harmful or not, but just the -- to the extent to which the therapy is being practiced in the State of Connecticut. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. As I stated at the beginning, this Bill is really about professional practice and what is appropriate professional practice when working with youth who are dealing with issues of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. This Bill is about best practices and trying to assure that Connecticut has the best practices in place to protect our youth. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. Reading through the testimony that was given during the hearings, I saw testimony from medical professionals indicating that conversion therapy is not effective, that in fact it's more than ineffective. It may be harmful to the recipient of such therapy or advice and I presume those are the main reasons why the proponent is advancing this Bill for passage today. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes, through you, Madam President. It's a matter of public health.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. If the practice of conversion therapy is indeed ineffective and harmful would it be appropriately described as quack medicine? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I would describe it as inappropriate practice in the care of young people.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. In light of the proponent's description of the therapy as being ineffective and during her presentation she actually mentioned it as being dangerous practice, would this be -- would it be appropriate to consider conversion therapy as medical malpractice? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. What this Bill is doing is saying this practice is unacceptable in Connecticut and you could be subject to sanctions through the Department of Public Health for your licensure.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again through you, Madam President. But if I understand the rationale for this Bill, the rationale is that this is bad practice, bad medical practice, and it's not only ineffective it's potentially harmful to the recipient. It seems to me that that fulfills the definition of what one might describe as medical malpractice. Would the proponent agree with that? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I'm describing the Bill as it is before us and the punishments that are written into the Bill before us and I don't want to speculate beyond that. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. If indeed this is practice that is -- medical practice that's ineffective and harmful and it fails to meet the prevailing professional standard of care, which is really what medical malpractice is about, then it would seem to me to be considered rightfully to be medical malpractice. The definition of medical malpractice is a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care. Would the proponent of the Bill agree with that? Would that description fulfill the definition of conversion therapy? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I would just like to refer to my previous answer to this question.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and through you, Madam President. This Bill does limit or prescribe conversion therapy insofar as it's applied to minors. It does not apply to someone who's 18 years old or older who wants to receive such therapy. Is that true? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, yes, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, through you, Madam President. If indeed the practice is ineffective and if it indeed is dangerous as medical practice and therapy, would it not also be dangerous and ineffective for a person who's 18 years old or older? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. As I stated earlier, this Bill is about protecting youth and I think as a legislature when you're making public policy we distinguish between adults making decisions about their own care and decisions that are made about a child's care and this is meant particularly to address young people and young people are particularly vulnerable to some of the repercussions of this sort of bad practice. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and through you, Madam President. So in a situation where a minor and their parent or legal guardians agree that they want this therapy, if this Bill passes, even if everyone's in agreement, the child as well as the guardian, that would not be permissible here in Connecticut. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. No.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President, and again through you. How does the law -- how would the law apply to adolescents who are confused about their sexual identity? LGBTQ does have lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual and questioning, as I understand the Q stands for, which would indicate to me there are some people who are confused or not certain about their sexual identity and my question -- conversion implies that you're taking someone who has -- believes they are, let's say, gay or bisexual, and you're trying to convert them to be straight, but if someone is not -- they're uncertain of what their sexual identity is, how would this be applied in a situation like that when they're not taking a position that they're gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. and, therefore, there's nothing to be converted from?

Would this Bill apply in the situation where an adolescent is truly confused about their sexual identity? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I think the term that the good Senator used was coercion in part of how he described and part of framing his question. I think that's a critical word that there is therapy that is coercing a child in one direction or other. A good therapy -- good therapeutic environment is one in which the therapist listens and supports and responds but does not coerce, whether about this or any -- mostly anything else.

I'm afraid the Senator would come up with an example if I said absolutely anything else, but that's the idea here, is that certainly there are young people who are questioning and there is therapy to be supportive of young people and students who are questioning, but as long as there is not a coercive approach the therapist can practice and one day a young person may be questioning their gender identity one way and one day another and as long as they are not coerced into believing one thing or the other by that therapist it would be acceptable practice. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and through you, Madam President. So in a situation in which an adolescent is confused and the therapist is in effect teasing out the information, trying to understand where the adolescent is coming from and if it turns out that through the therapy that that adolescent determines that they're straight, would that therapist be at risk for being prosecuted under this law because the way the law is written is it can't be coercive in a sense of discouraging people who may have bisexual or gay tendencies, but it doesn't say anything at all about the opposite where someone might be inclined to be straight but is confused.

So my question is, and I think some practitioners -- I've been contacted by people who do adolescent counseling and they've expressed some concern about the ambiguity of that kind of a situation and I would ask the proponent if they could elucidate a little bit more in a situation where there's a confused adolescent with, you know, what assurances does the practitioner have that if the child eventually decides they're straight that they won't be prosecuted at some time in the future for providing therapy which results in an adolescent determining that they are straight? Through you, Madam President

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President, and through you. The idea here is that the therapist is supportive of the individual's expression of their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation. I think that's the standard. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and through you, Madam President. In terms of the practice of the law if it passes, you did mention before privacy concerns and HIPAA and medical records are subject to privacy issues. If indeed an adolescent were to complain that they had been subjected to conversion therapy what would the procedure be to be able to bring out the facts regarding that and yet not violate the privacy laws regarding health care? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. It would be like any other complaint which it would be an investigation. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Through you, Madam President. I'm not familiar with what those procedures are. If the proponent could just educate me a little bit about that I would appreciate it. Thank you very much.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Could the fine gentleman repeat his question?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

I'm not familiar with what the procedures are when there's allegations of medical malpractice. I would ask the proponent if she could explain to me in this particular situation if there's an allegation of malpractice or -- not malpractice, but violating this particular law, how the facts would be brought out in light of the privacy laws and she mentioned -- when I asked that question first she mentioned, well it's the standard procedure when there's medical malpractice, but I'm not familiar with what that is so I ask the good proponent what that might be.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. It would go before the Department of Public Health, who holds the license of the professional, and they conduct hearings like they would on any complaint against any health care provider. I think it's -- if the fine gentleman would consider this to be like any other medical or licensed professional who's practicing in a way that puts their patient in danger, this is treated that exact same way. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, and again through you, Madam President. This last exchange has brought us back to this whole idea of medical malpractice which I believe if conversion therapy is indeed ineffective and it is indeed harmful, and there was apparently a lot of testimony from medical professionals to that extent -- in fact I know the American Psychiatry Association, I think, is -- has disparaged it -- it would seem to me that the professional bodies have set a standard that conversion therapy would be in violation of and, therefore, it would be potentially medical malpractice and from what I understand when someone feels that they've been the victim of medical malpractice they can approach the Department of Public Health and ask for an investigation and sanctions if they find such conduct, which is exactly what I believe this Bill will do, right? So through you, Madam President, would that not be the same thing?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Senator Suzio has returned several times to this question of medical malpractice and I'm not trying to be evasive. I'm just trying to stay within the law, or the Bill that's before us, to describe it as unprofessional conduct, which is how it's described in the Bill here. Anyone who wants to take it further than that, you know, that's -- that's up -- that's -- I think that's what Senator Suzio is asking about but I'm keeping my comments to the contents of the Bill and the sanctions that are in this Bill for professionals who engage in this dangerous conduct. Through you, Madam President

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you. I have no further questions for the proponent. I will just say that one of my concerns just is that I believe the outcome of this legislation basically would result in the same outcome as if somebody alleged medical malpractice today who had received conversion therapy and indeed apparently there was a great deal of evidence during the public hearing testimony of public health officials and medical professionals that the therapy is ineffective and in fact harmful under some circumstances and, therefore, would likely be considered to be medical malpractice and so if that were the case then the remedies that are provided in this Bill are already available in law and so to some extent the law, I find, to be redundant. Maybe it clarifies certain things and I am leaning towards voting for this right now. I'm waiting to hear the rest of the debate, but those are the questions and concerns I have and I think it's been very informative to engage in a dialog with the proponent of the Bill. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Senator Kissel. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Great to see you on this beautiful spring Wednesday afternoon. First of all, I want to state for the record that I am 100 percent in favor of this Bill and I commend the proponent for bringing it forward before us this year and I have stated to my colleagues and to others that have approached me as recently as today that I have no intention of offering any amendments to this Bill or supporting any amendments if any of my colleagues bring those forward.

Nonetheless, I have been approached by individuals in the last really just 48 hours representing the Connecticut Catholic Conference and indeed those of you who are lucky enough to represent folks here in the circle. Last year we had, to my knowledge, the first time in the history of the Chamber the Archbishop from the Hartford -- Greater Hartford Diocese. Archbishop Leonard Blair came here to our Chamber and offered us a prayer early in the morning and was gracious enough to meet with several of us and was -- is a very nice, kind, good gentleman and he and I actually spoke personally this morning on this Bill as well and so in attempt to create a very clear legislative history I have four questions just for -- for the proponents of the Bill and I offer that to assuage the concerns of some of the folks out there in the State of Connecticut that may have concerns with this Bill, but I for one don't necessarily share all those concerns and feel that the Bill is extremely important and that our young people should not have to confront these kinds of efforts on top of all the other things that are going on in their world and that all adolescents face in one way or another.

So with that as a predicate, if I may, a few questions to the proponent of the Bill, Madam President?

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much. Number one, does Section 1 limit discussions by clergy or religious educators regarding the teaching of religious doctrine about human sexuality? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. No it does not.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much. Number two, is a religious school nurse restricted by Section 1 from discussing issues of human sexuality that reflect the religious beliefs of that school? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Can the good gentleman clarify what he means by that question?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Through you, Madam President. I just have the language before me. Is a religious school nurse, and I think that the school nurse hired by that religious school, restricted by Section 1 from discussing the issues of human sexuality that reflect the religious beliefs of that school, and of course that would apply to a parochial school, that would apply to a Jewish school, that would apply to a Muslim school. There is a Muslim school in Windsor that I had all these terrific adolescents, junior high school and high school age, come and visit me a month ago from one of the towns I represent, Windsor, so we have all sorts of religious schools in our state. I'm just -- that's as best I could explain it.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President, and I can see where the question is coming from because a nurse is a licensed professional who's licensed by the Department of Public Health but there is also in this Bill -- it talks about unfair or deceptive trade practices in referring to CUTPA so it does not likely apply to clergy engaged in ther -- in therapy in the context of free religious counseling and I want to refer to Reynolds v. Ziska where the Connecticut Trial Court held that the religious activities of the Roman Catholic Church and Diocese did not constitute trade and -- I'm sorry, trade or commerce and, therefore, were not covered by CUTPA. According to the Court, the CUTPA claim here is based on the allegation that the Defendants engaged in trade or commerce of providing religion. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much. So by way of clarification, I'm still on question two, even though a school nurse is a licensed professional and, therefore, comes under that portion of the proposed Bill, the fact that they're working in a religious school has been determined by the Courts not to be engaging in commerce and, therefore, would not fall under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Is that correct? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. That is my impression of the Bill and CUTPA. I would just like to say that it is not my impression nor have I heard that nurses in religious schools are engaging in coercive therapy towards students. I think nurses in the schools are engaging in caring for students before them who are sick. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much and I appreciate that explanation and I think that probably is much as we're going to be able to get on the legislative record, but I think without a doubt this Bill is not aimed at school nurses in any way, shape, or form, especially those that are involved with a religious school in explaining the human sexuality doctrine of that school.

Question number three, in Section 1, would the proponent please explain what the words "any effort to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward a person", what does that mean?

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Could Senator Kissel please refer me to the line so I can see exactly where he is?

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

I'm sorry. Thank you, Senator Gerratana, for helping with that. It's line 6 through 8. We work in a very bipartisan fashion at this side of the circle, not that other folks don't.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

I believe, like I covered in my conversation with Senator Suzio, that the therapy is not coercive, that it is supportive of the student and their feelings. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much. So again, by -- just to follow up the third question, even though the words say any effort to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward another individual, there would also have to be superimposed upon that a coercive effort and absent any coercion no one would be running afoul of this Bill. Would that be correct? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Yes.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

Thank you very much. And last -- the fourth question I've been asked to create a legislative history regarding, if a teacher, coach, or camp counselor makes a statement to the class, team, or cabin group advocating that the youths not engage romantically for a certain period of time, would that violate this provision?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. No.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL (7TH):

That being the legislative history I was asked to create, I want to thank Senator Bye for her answers to those questions and Senator Gerratana for bringing this Bill forward, and I commend all the advocates and individuals that cared about moving this Bill forward.

When you have doubts about yourself whether it's your sexuality, whether it's your masculinity or femininity, when it's your ability to exist within certain groups, that can be really daunting. That can be daunting for adults. Some days that's daunting for me in this circle, believe it. Your tensions run high, you might have a lot on your plate, there may be things going on at home, in your other jobs, with other family members, and it's a lot to juggle. And then to interpose upon that people being critical or coercing you can really tip the scales in a very negative way.

I analogize this to another practice that we do not tolerate and that's bullying and the net result in dramatically terrible cases is that individuals either harm themselves or kill themselves when they are tremendously picked on, coerced, or bullied and what we need to do is be strong and supportive and allow individuals to grow and blossom and become the full self-confident individuals that they are meant to become and so I don't know how prevalent this is in the State of Connecticut but I certainly don't believe it is helpful in the growth and maturation of any young individual and with that I urge my colleagues to support this Bill. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Senator MacLachlan. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR MACLACHLAN (35TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I stand for questions to the proponent of the Bill.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR MACLACHLAN (35TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator Bye, for your hard work on this. I have some specific questions about the -- sort of technical question about the business of counseling children in these areas that we're talking about in this legislation.

It seems to be that we're addressing two areas. One that's been around for quite a while and that's counseling -- let me get the language correct -- sexual orientation, and then the rather newer type of counseling that has been less prevalent and less known about is gender identity, and so as I did some research on both of those types of counseling, the counseling for sexual orientation seems to be pretty clear, pretty well established by this time, but not so with gender identity. In fact I'm curious why the psychiatric terminology is not included in this legislation because as I did my research I come across terminology that used to be known as gender identity disorder, which is no longer an acceptable term. It's now known as gender dysphoria.

And in fact when I look at current prevalent acceptable methods of treatment of gender dysphoria in children under 18 I'm coming across a lot of conflict worldwide. It's not just United States where there's conflict in opinion on this. Certainly in Canada there's been a big fight about how to treat gender dysphoria and yet I'm seeing that there's support or suggested support on this Bill from a lot of psychiatric associations.

So could you talk to us a little bit about, if you can, what is the difference, first of all, in that treatment and, secondly, this reported conflict worldwide in the appropriate ways of this treatment? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I really appreciate Senator MacLachlan's question because words do matter and as he talked to the history of the term gender disorder, gender dysphoria, you can go back to DSM-III, which is a diagnostic and statistical manual, I, II, III, and there are terms regarding homosexuality and gender identity that are words that have been repudiated and no longer in the public discourse, and I think Connecticut picked the word gender identity and the term gender identity based on what we know now is an appropriate term because the term dysphoria, you know, implies some kind of problem like it's a diss, you know. You must talk to that adolescent, diss is not a good thing, to be dissed.

What it really is about, and as we built understanding, as Senator MacLachlan pointed out things change over time. I would argue that there have been just as many individuals struggling with these issues 25 years ago as today but as we built understanding today there is more empathy and compassion for people as they move through life and come to understand their gender identity.

So that term is in this Bill very purposely to say you have to honor and individual's gender identity. There's nothing dysphoric about it. It's their identity. It's who they are and the intent of the Bill is to honor who that individual is and help protect them from some of the consequences when adults in their lives, and maybe professionals, don't honor that identity. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator MacLachlan.

SENATOR MACLACHLAN (35TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, through you. Thank you, Senator Bye. We certainly agree in the history that it's been around a long time but it has made some rapid changes in recent years the treatment of children with this challenge. Some of the research that I found, though, and what I would ask for your comment on, is that there was a report of the American Psychiatric Association task force on the treatment of gender identity disorder just about four years. I believe this was published and it was widely disseminated and apparently lots of people had opinions on the task force report, but that task force report was one of the -- I call it industry -- was one of the areas of medicine where sort of like the New England Journal of Medicine is important, this is one of those publications that's important in this field of medicine, and that report seemed to show that the professionals in this area of treatment are not in agreement in what's the appropriate way to handle it.

And I also found stories -- a story in -- the New York Times magazine about a Dr. Kenneth Zucker, who was very controversial apparently, well known, well respected at the time Canadian from Toronto, who was an expert in this field of treatment and was displaced and summarily fired from his professional job in Toronto because his way of treatment was a different way than what is proposed in this legislation.

My point is this: If there appears to be disagreement in the professional community worldwide, not just the United States, why are we putting into State Statute taking a side with that professional argument about which is the right way to treat children with this challenge? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Through you, Madam President. The good gentleman has pointed out that there is sometimes disagreement among professions -- professionals and that happens in every profession and that's why professional organizations develop professional standards. It's why the APA developed DSM-5, DSM-6, so the professionals will look to professional guidelines.

And the reason that Connecticut is taking this step is really the confluence of evidence about the hazards of this sort of treatment and in front of me I have over 40 organizations, professional organizations, of teachers, doctors, nurses, pediatricians, psychologists, American Family therapists, virtually every mental health organization in the State of Connecticut saying this Bill is very important to protect youth.

So there's a difference between several people that disagree because in our country and in -- certainly in different practices professionals have disagreements but within professional organizations they develop professional guidelines and this Bill is in keeping with the professional guideline. I don't think it's any secret that issues of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation have drawn fire from religious groups, conservative groups. These issues have a lot of influences. What we're trying to do with this Bill is say we're gonna follow best practices from the professionals who've developed guidelines in the State of Connecticut and protect children. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator MacLachlan.

SENATOR MACLACHLAN (35TH):

Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Senator Bye. Protection of our children is clearly everyone's wish and high priority and I concur with that wholeheartedly. The question I offered, though, was more for clarification. If there is professional differences of opinion in how to treat isn't it a long step to take one side of that argument that's a professional argument and drop it into State Statute? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I would argue that there is not professional argument when there is a group that adopts policies. I would say there is widespread agreement that coercive therapy in this particular practice is not good for patients. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator MacLachlan.

SENATOR MACLACHLAN (35TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Senator Bye. I would agree that coercive therapy is totally inappropriate. I got the impression through my research that sometimes it's not coercive therapy but I guess that's -- that would be someone's matter of opinion how it's identified.

Last but not least, if I may, through you, Madam President, is a question regarding the general idea of thoughts out there, a matter of opinion again, is that there are a good percentage of children under 18 who have gender identity challenges and are experiencing that challenge and in that experience they are feeling isolated, oftentimes isolate completely in that they don't share the challenge that they have with others, certainly not with adults. Sometimes the only time they're sharing this challenge is with another child and I think that my concern is if someone 10 or 12 years old is going through this very earth-shattering challenge it seems to me that this Statute that we're proposing doesn't give this 10 or 12-year-old wiggle room to change their mind and so I wonder if you could address that.

My concern is if a 10-year-old says -- a 10-year-old boy suggests I'm a girl and is seeking some type of therapy for that but no one can say, well, why don't you sit on that decision for a little while and think about it first, could you comment on that concern? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Yes, Madam President. I really appreciate that question from Senator MacLachlan 'cause there are these chances in conversations like this for public education and within the therapeutic practice with young people who are questioning their gender identity and as Senator MacLachlan rightly pointed out there are times when children may feel one way one day and another way another day and the therapist would have to, you know, support where that student is, maybe remind them of where they were and ask questions.

But before any therapist will, I believe, and I'm trying to use the proper word, but for gender identity questioning when you talk to parents of children who have had gender identity challenges or therapists who work with children with gender identity therapists, they use three words: Insistent, persistent, and consistent. And those are the three tenets of understanding when a child is very clear.

So this Bill is not meant to push a child one way or the other but to support best practices in supporting that student or child where they are as they're moving through youth, and that can certainly be a challenging thing and in our culture some of the gender boxes are so tight and square that young people do question, do I fit if I'm not like this? Am I a boy, and if I'm not like this am I a girl? Some of that's a reaction to the culture, but the role of the therapist is taking that child in a culture and supporting them where they are and paying attention to if they are insistent, persistent, and consistent in their gender identity. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator MacLachlan.

SENATOR MACLACHLAN (35TH):

Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Senator Bye, for your answers and I'll continue to listen to the debate.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, sir. Will you remark further? Senator Miner. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, my ex-wife and I raised three children and I'm trying to remember back to their earlier years and whether their sexuality was ever an issue and I actually had spent some time in the car this morning and gave it quite a bit of thought and I'd have to say that, no, I never was aware that there was a misunderstanding about what their gender was. So I believe in my heart that we are all born predisposed generally one way or the other and if I believe that then I think I must have some ability to think that there's a possibility that there are some that may be on the bubble for a period of time.

And so as I thought about this legislation I was trying to imagine how a parent might appropriately help their child through what are remembered by me to be some difficult years for a whole bunch of other reasons let alone this. And so when I read the language again today I was thinking to myself, well, as long as there's a reasonable expectation that parents could seek counseling, especially if their child was undecided, seek counseling for some guidance, then what's the harm? We certainly want to send the right message here in the State of Connecticut that we don't believe that health care should be about trying to direct an individual one way or the other 'cause like I said at the onset I believe in my heart that this is how we are born.

But when I read the words I get a little nervous. I heard the good Senator talk about -- as long as the counseling doesn't direct the decision one way or the other that it would be acceptable. Counseling to try and make a determination isn't necessarily steering. But when I read the language on line 8 it very clearly says that as long as you are not directing or guiding the person away from someone of the same gender then you run afoul of this law. So theoretically as long as you are guiding in the direction of your same gender that would be permissible under this law under my reading of it.

Again, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm just saying that's my read of it. In the line before that where it talks about but not limited to any effort to change gender expression, and then in line 7, eliminate or reduce sexual, romantic attraction, one thing I do very clearly remember at the age of 14 or 15 trying to slow down hormones and I wonder under this language if my daughter had been attracted to someone of the same gender and my wife and I sought out counseling in an effort at the age of 14 to slow down this process would we have run afoul of this new language if it was construed in some way to be specifically because they were attracted to someone of the same gender?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. No, I do not believe so. I think this not -- does not apply to parents. It applies to the counselor, that the counselor is not counseling in another direction to push them away from a gender identity they're expressing or a sexual orientation or gender expression that they are expressing, so I do not believe so. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President, and through you. In line 8 where it speaks about feelings toward the same gender, am I correct that as long as the feelings are toward the same gender and the professional doesn't seek to move them away from that same gender, then it would be permissible under this language and not permissible if my daughter, let's say, was undecided, seeking guidance, troubled perhaps, and the leaning may be in the other direction? So it does clearly say that as long as it's gender similar it's acceptable. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I believe that is true. I'm try -- there are a couple of reversals in there that I'm trying to make sure -- I'll try to clarify for Senator Miner. The language, my understanding, is that the language is meaning to say that if you brought your daughter who was questioning in to therapy, which is your prerogative as a parent, that that professional does not push your daughter one way or the other, frankly. But this is very specific to gay therapy, banning gay conversion, which is why the language is like that. That the therapist would likely ask your daughter questions and listen and over time be supportive of your daughter figuring out her own identity and her own sexual orientation. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President. So the gentlelady spoke about conversion therapy being specific to same gender. Is that widely understood? Is there no possibility that conversion therapy, directing someone in that direction when they may be on the bubble as I said, could run afoul of this law? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

They would not run afoul of this law as long as they are following that individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and I think some of what Senator Miner is trying to get at is that there are young people who are questioning and the therapy needs to be supportive of that phase and that state of gender identity and sexual orientation and gender expression at that age. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President. The gentlelady spoke about people in that age and the age on line 4 that has been selected is 18 and one of the questions that came to me, why is there no exception for children who may have sought emancipation below the age of 18 and can otherwise make their own decisions? In that case of someone, rightly or wrongly, chose to seek out this type of therapy, is the clinician then still bound by this language or would that circumstance be exempted? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

The age is 18 as stated in the Bill whether they are emancipated minor or not. The idea is to protect children until they get to the age of maturity, which in our culture is considered the age of 18. Even if they are emancipated they can't vote 'til they're 18. They're not considered adults until they are 18 so it's meant to be a protective measure. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President. The last question that I have actually goes back to, I think, maybe some of the questions that Senator Kissel asked. Understanding that sometimes, especially amongst young people, you have these relationships that could be on, could be off depending on the day, depending on the week, depending on the month. Who would make the complaint against the clinician? Is it conceivable that the complainant would be either the patient or the parents of the patient? Or could it actually be someone who may have been involved in a romantic relationship that felt there was an attempt being made to separate two people based on their gender? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I appreciate that question. I think the easiest frame with which to view this is the way we view medical professions who have complaints because that's the place of complaint to the Department of Public Health. If a doctor is practicing, or dentist, in a way that is not appropriate, it could be a patient, it could be a coworker, it could be a family member. Someone makes the complaint to the Department of Public Health that this person is engaging in practice that is not good for their patient. So it's an administrative process and hearing related to that individual's license so I think it should be viewed the way you'd view any complaint against -- about a licensed professional to the Department of Public Health. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President. And so in my earlier example of on again, off again relationship or whether parents are trying to slow down a process regardless of the gender, it appears based on your response that even in a circumstance like that if the attempt was to slow it down and not necessarily send someone in a different direction a complaint could be made against the clinician and then there would be an investigation. If the gentlelady knows, how would that determination be made? How would that be made?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Through a Department of Public Health hearing process that would be made just like other medical professions. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Miner.

SENATOR MINER (30TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I thank the gentlelady. I thought about this quite a lot because I do think that there is kind of a tender age where young people especially deserve some protection. It was shocking to me that there's actually a process by which, you know, you make an appointment and then someone had some kind of a direct procedure by which they thought that they could convert someone who, as I said, I think is predominantly born that way.

I've had an opportunity on the Appropriations Committee actually to exchange questions with some people who have testified about how some states handle gender identity very differently than the way we do in the State of Connecticut and how they handle medical procedures very differently than how we do here in Connecticut and I find that in Connecticut we are much more thoughtful about that process, much more inclusive.

I'm not -- I'm not worried about supporting the Bill. In fact it is my intention to support the Bill. I think these are the kind of protections that we want to afford people trying to make some very difficult decisions. I am a little bit concerned that it does seem to have at its language here some gender bias for those that are undecided. Not that we shouldn't be favoring people of the same gender having that opportunity but that we've kind of chosen the side in the language and I guess that would be my point. But I take the gentlelady at her word that conversion therapy is widely understood to be exactly that, trying to convert someone that may have a predisposition to be sexually and emotionally attracted to someone of the same gender as opposed to the opposite. So thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, sir. Will you remark further? Senator Somers. Good afternoon, ma'am.

SENATOR SOMERS (18TH):

Good afternoon. Thank you, Madam President. I am a co-sponsor of this Bill and I wanted to talk to an experience that my brother-in-law had, growing up how difficult it is to come to terms with your own sexuality, coming out as a gay man, and I can't imagine what he went through just in that experience let alone have to go through something like conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy was also known years ago as reparative therapy, something that means you need to be fixed. All the leading medical and mental health professionals have rejected conversion therapy as ineffective and dangerous. Conversion, or reparative therapy, is really based on the false assumption that if you're not heterosexual there's something wrong with you. Conversion therapy effects people with great shame, guilt, hopelessness, and severely impacts their self-esteem, and the research that I've done has shown that youth that have gone through conversion therapy are eight times more likely to commit suicide.

The leading experts agree, again, in the mental health professional field that this practice is not good, it's not good medicine, and it's not effective. One could actually say that it really is unacceptable and it deviates from the standard of care that should be provided by therapists. We would not tolerate another medical professional deviating from the standard of care or providing care that was considered harmful to others whether it be a cardiologist, a dentist, or a nurse.

So I would urge my colleagues to joint me and support this Bill as it's the right thing to do and it sets the tone for Connecticut that we treat all equally. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Markley. Good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR MARKLEY (16TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Thank you very much. I've had a funny history, I guess, with this Bill in the sense that I think when it was proposed I was one of the first people that proponents talked to assuming that I might be one of the people most likely to have concerns about it, and serving on the Public Health Committee I had the advantage of hearing some of the testimony and on the Committee level I was really hearing nothing particularly against it and I supported it on the Committee level and have not had any concerns about it from the aspect of sexual orientation.

What has concerned me, and what was brought up in conversation by Senator MacLachlan, was the question of gender identity and the inclusion of gender identity as a subject to be protected from conversion therapy. It seems to me that there's more controversy about that side of it and I guess -- I'm not gonna subject Senator Bye to a number of questions. I never -- it's not my way of operating and she's been -- she's answered the one -- she's had very thoughtfully and very kindly, but I do have just a quest -- a couple of things, through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR MARKLEY (16TH):

I would ask the good Senator if she's aware in other states that have passed bans on conversion therapy if that applied solely to sexual preference as opposed to gender identity? In other words, did some states ban conversion therapy for sexual preference but not for gender identity?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I listed the states who've passed similar conversion therapy Bills, which is the language in my understanding. I don't have the details of each state's language so I can't answer that perfectly, I'm afraid, or maybe even as the good gentleman would like, but I do know that as someone with a background in psychology that gender identity and sexual orientation and gender expression are generally considered sort of the three parts to someone's gender, if you will, and so they're very -- they're considered very similarly in the psychological research. They're different things. As I stated, even in the Statutes they mean different things, but it's all about gender and so the idea here is not to allow professionals to practice conversion about a person's gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation, but I'm not exactly sure what the other laws in the other states say. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Markley.

SENATOR MARKLEY (16TH):

Thank you very much for that answer and let me ask you one other -- let me put one more question to Senator Bye, through you, Madam President, and I don't mean to formulate this as a "got you" by any means, but for my own understanding of it. In the Bill it says conversion therapy includes any practice which would attempt to change gender identity but it does not include under the first part A assisting a person undergoing gender transition. It seems to me that if gender identity is an established thing I'm not sure what the phrase gender transition would mean in that context.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. I do appreciate the good gentleman's question and the intent with which it's offered. What it means is exactly what it says. Conversion therapy isn't about supporting a person who's undergoing a gender transition. It's -- that's a supportive therapy and the individual is going through that transition. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Markley.

SENATOR MARKLEY (16TH):

Thank you, Madam President. So that would mean, through you, the gender transition being the physical transition -- the transition of the physical body to match the underlying gender identity?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Yes.

SENATOR MARKLEY (16TH):

Thank you very much and thank you, Senator Bye, for your answers. My concern about the Bill, about the matter of gender identity, is in part because I think it's accepted that it's not unusual for children, preadolescent children, who have had -- to identify with one gender and then not in the long run undergo the transition because of -- because they accept the physical body that they're born into. The sexual preference is a different question.

It seems that in that period of youth for the child who is struggling to come to terms with what obviously he or she is experiencing as discontinuity between their inward identity and their physical body that that counseling would have to be of great sensitivity but it would seem like it would have to have a fair amount of latitude not to be coercive but to be -- if I were to say to encourage the child to ask questions which would help to clarify things in their own mind, as I think a counselor would -- in any kind of counseling situation, even if it's a matter of dealing with other problems in one's life, the therapist famously is somebody who continually asks questions and attempts to lead a person to an understanding of their own feelings which brings them to terms one way or another with their own feelings as I understand it.

That's something that I would not want to discourage and I'm always worried, as the people who serve with me here in this circle know, that by passing legislation which to my mind is always a heavy-handed way of doing things that we run the risks of having consequences in the real world which are not what we intend and put restrictions on what can be well-intentioned health care providers that are ultimately not useful for the people that they're trying to help because we're so different. The legislation is before us because we are all so different and just as with medical approaches, different things work with different people, so even more, I believe, with psychological approaches, different things can be appropriate with different people, not to say coercion is ever an appropriate way of working with people.

On those grounds, under many circumstances, I'd be inclined to vote against this Bill because I don't want to do the harm of putting something into Statute that I'm not comfortable enough about. I put that against the fact that the advocates for this, I think sincerely, see it as being a Bill which is important to the sense of the legislators -- the legislature's view of their own identity and our own views personally, our society's views, and acceptance of people's identities.

I remember being in the situation 30 years ago more or less on a Bill that had to do with the state investments in foreign countries. My instinct is always to say the one advantage of being a State Senator is you don't have to deal with foreign policy and I don't want to have to deal with foreign policy. I want to leave it aside.

By the same token, at a certain point I understand the sensitivities of the people desirous of seeing us take this action and the unfortunate -- the unfortunate message that they might receive by our rejection of something that they so wholeheartedly have asked us to do for them and for that reason and with concerns about the Bill that I will do my best to come to understand better and to see the effect of going forward I will support this legislation and I thank those who have brought it forward and I think Senator Bye and Senator Gerratana for their courtesy in responding to our questions which in our ignorance may seem ignorant. Thank you very much.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Good afternoon, Senator Martin.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

Good afternoon, Madam President. I just have a question.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

I can't imagine these young children that are totally confused or confused about their gender so I did, you know, provided some information and I took the time to read some of it and there's an article from the New York Times which is a very good read and I wish I could have had time -- more time to finish it, but perhaps got halfway through it. It makes a comment regarding 80 to 95 percent of the young children, pre-puberty children, who experience gender identity will be resolved before adulthood. So I guess the question that I have -- that I have is are we taking away a tool, a simple tool such as coping, that counselors would use to help young adolescents perhaps to try to identify and resolve the confusion that they're going through? So I guess, you know, a practitioner who counsels a child who experiences some level of gender identification and who assists that child in coping with his or her biological sex could lose -- could he or she lose their license if we pass this legislation?

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. Any professional, psychologist, or therapist, licensed professional, who's helping a child cope with some of their questions would not be punished under this Bill. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Martin.

SENATOR MARTIN (31ST):

That's it. Thank you so much.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Suzio for the second time.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. One of the great things about being in the circle here is that we can have these debates and discussions about issues and I find many of them very interesting and informative and listening to today's discussion I find to be very thought provoking and as I've listened to the debate go on for the last hour thoughts have been bouncing around in my head.

It seems to me that the question of conversion therapy, if it is considered to be medical malpractice, not meeting the accepted standards of the medical field, it would make this absolutely a no-brainer in the sense that it's already illegal anyways. But try as I did to coax the proponent of the Bill to acknowledge that this might indeed be considered a violation of standard medical practice she seemed to be reluctant to go that far and acknowledge it, which if we aren't willing to identify it as medical malpractice then it must be accepted medical practice. It may be controversial and may be questionable, but apparently not far enough down the line to be considered to be malpractice, medical malpractice, in which case if we deny the ability of a willing child and parents to subscribe to that kind of therapy then we're denying access to acceptable medical care, again, although it might be controversial.

Even under those circumstances, though, I could see if it's coercive, if parents are forcing or trying to force a child to change their proclivities, I find that extremely objectionable. I don't know if it's possible to do even and I would like very much to hear the good Senator's take as, again, I'm evolving and thinking about this as we've been discussing it and to me, again, it's a no-brainer if it's medical malpractice and it's a no-brainer if it's coercive, but what about the situation -- if we aren't willing to describe it as medical malpractice and if indeed there is a situation where the legal guardians, the parents of the child, and the child themselves want to engage or receive "conversion therapy", you know, is it -- is that precluded? I mean, in other words, is it implied that it's coercive in nature for it to be subject to this particular Bill? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. In Section 2 of the Bill it describes conversion therapy as unprofessional conduct that shall be subject to disciplinary action under Section 19a-17, 21a-7, and 21a-8 of the General Statute. In our particular culture people sue people over all sorts of things. The reason I'm reluctant to say something or other is medical malpractice because that really depends on the particular case and the testimony of professionals in that particular profession and that is under a different part of our Statute, so I'm trying to stick to what it's -- what this Bill is doing and the penalties under this Bill. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

And again, just a little bit more if I may, Madam President. Is it intended to prevent conversion therapy received by a child under coercion but not -- that are receiving it voluntarily it does not apply? Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Through you, Madam President. It's intended to apply to all practice to children under 18 by paid professionals. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Well it's been a very provocative discussion to say the least and I'm thinking about it still. If I come to the conclusion that this is bad medicine then it seems to me that it's a no-brainer again that it shouldn't be allowed and it definitely shouldn't be allowed if it's coercive and what I'm trying to clarify in my head is are there circumstances where it's not coercive and where apparently, as Senator MacLachlan was saying, at least there's some controversy within the medical field about what works and doesn't work when it comes to confusion in terms of gender identity. So I guess I will just be thinking about this for the next few minutes before we vote and I do want to thank the proponent of the Bill for, I think, bringing up a Bill that is designed to accomplish a desirable end, which is to prevent someone from being coerced into therapy that may not only be ineffective but potentially harmful to that young person. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark? Will you remark? Senator Looney.

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, rising to speak in support of the Bill. First of all, I wanted to thank Senator Bye and Senator Gerratana for their very hard work on this issue together with their House counterparts in the debate on the Bill in that Chamber.

I think it is important for us to recognize that what this Bill is about is preventing sort of a overbearing approach based upon an ideology rather than on sound medical practice and I think we should be cognizant of the words in the debate in the House of Representative Petit who is, of course, a distinguished physician, that said that the legislation is trying to prevent a fruitless effort to control something which is biological or genetic and it really makes no sense to try to sanction or approve something that would be looking to overturn natural tendencies that are part of someone's nature, and I think we should be cognizant of that and realize that this legislation will prevent that, that if there is an effort to try to coerce or in some way alter someone's thinking about something that is genetic or biological we are in effect doing violence to the essence of that person under the guise of trying to help them to conform to perhaps something that might be considered in that person's view a more orthodox position in society, but it would be doing great harm to the essence and the integrity of the person who would be a victim of that kind of so called therapy.

So I think, Madam President, that this Bill is important in that way, that it recognizes the integrity of persons that should not be tampered with, should not be interfered with, and that people should not be made to suffer for something which is part of a natural condition. So I would urge the entire Chamber to support this Bill. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, Mr. Clerk, will you call for a roll call vote and the machine will be open.

THE CLERK:

Immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate.

THE CHAIR:

If all members have voted, all members have voted? The machine will be closed and, Mr. Clerk, will you please call the tally.

MR. CLERK:

House Bill 6695.

Total number voting 36

Those voting Yea 36

Those voting Nay 0

Those absent and not voting 0

THE CHAIR:

The Bill passes. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I move for immediate transmittal to the Governor, please.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Our next item on the Go List will be Calendar page 5, Calendar 119, Senate Bill 126.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk, Mr. Clerk.

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Madam President, point of order, please.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Witkos, why do you stand, sir?

SENATOR WITKOS (8TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Pursuant to Rule No. 9, items not on the Joint Go List can only be acted upon upon the passage of a motion by one of the four leaders to mark such item Go and since this item is not on the Joint Go List I request a roll call on Senator Duff's motion to mark it Go.

THE CHAIR:

Stand at ease for a moment. Senate will stand at ease.

MR. CLERK:

There will be a Senate Democratic Caucus in five minutes. There will be a Senate Democratic Caucus in five minutes. A Senate Democratic Caucus in five minutes.

UNKNOWN:

There will be immediate Republican Caucus. There will be immediate Republican Senate Caucus. All Senators please report to the Chamber.

UNKNOWN:

There will be an immediate Democratic Senate Caucus, an immediate Democrat Senate Caucus, an immediate Senate Democratic Caucus. There will be immediate Senate Republican Caucus, an immediate Senate Republican Caucus, an immediate Senate Republican Caucus.

UNKNOWN:

Senate will please come to order. Senate will come to order and Chair recognizes the Majority Leader, Senator Duff, for purposes I believe of withdrawing a previously made motion.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Good evening. Yes, I'd like to withdraw the motion on the Bill that I had marked Go and mark it as PT please.

UNKNOWN:

Thank you. On the Motion, all in favor?

SENATORS:

Aye.

UNKNOWN:

Opposed? The motion carries and the -- that is -- the prior motion has been withdrawn. Any additional business? Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I move that we adjourn subject to the call of the Chair.

UNKNOWN:

Thank you. The Senate will stand adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.

(On motion of Senator Duff of the 25th, the Senate at 11: 04 p. m. adjourned Sine Die. )

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