New NY Senate passes long-stalled LGBTQ protections, progressive bills

State Senator Brad Hoylman is congratulated by colleagues last week after two of his bills, GENDA and a ban on gay conversion therapy, are passed. (Photo courtesy of State Senator Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, two LGBTQ rights bills that were long-championed by State Senator Brad Hoylman — and long ignored by what was a Republican majority until now — were finally passed. They included a ban on gay conversion therapy and GENDA (The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), which expands the laws on discrimination to include gender identity and expression.

Additionally, the Child Victims Act, which would lengthen the amount of time victims of sex crimes have to file suits, was included in the governor’s proposed budget. The bill has seen some opposition from religious institutions, including schools and the Boy Scouts of America, and a story in the Times Union recently noted a potential loophole that could exempt public schools.

In response, Hoylman said while he is confident there is no such loophole, the bill will be reworked before it is reintroduced this legislative session to prevent there being any questions about this.

GENDA, meanwhile, is expected to go into effect within 30 days of being signed by Cuomo, while the gay conversion therapy ban would go into effect immediately. Part of the GENDA bill would go into effect in November to give local law enforcement agencies time to catch up and also make paperwork changes.

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 24

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

This price hike won’t wash

On January 16, 2019, a “Dear Valued Resident of PCVST” note was taped to the laundry room in my building explaining that CSC Service Works was raising the price to use their washers and dryers.

CSC Service Works did not say we were valued customer of theirs. Supporting that blunder, however, CSC’s letter was dated November 15. Despite the price increase scheduled to be “finalized” on or about January 17, I got hit with the hike.

Every expense CSC offers as rationale to increase the price to use their machines pales in comparison to how much they make because one can’t round off the amount on their cards to fit the price of a wash and dry. The average balance that people carry around may be three dollars.

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VA taking aim at veteran suicides

Suicide prevention coordinator Kate Mostkoff and clinical psychologist Mia Ihm, PhD, at the Manhattan VA (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

From January 22-25, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been engaging in a nationwide suicide prevention effort, with the various facilities, including Manhattan VA on East 23rd Street, hoping to reach out to veterans who wouldn’t normally show up at their doors.

This is because 20 veterans die by suicide each day and out of those 20, 14 haven’t been seeking services at the VA.

Meanwhile, the VA has developed the most comprehensive suicide prevention program in the entire country, according to suicide prevention coordinator Kate Mostkoff and Mia Ihm, PhD, a clinical psychologist, who both work at the Manhattan hospital. A VA system-wide veterans crisis line gets hundreds of calls each day, with on average two or three of those calls being routed to the Manhattan VA on weekdays, and even more on weekends. This makes the Manhattan campus one of the busier recipients of such calls and the hospital is required to respond to those calls within 24 hours. The line, staffed by veterans and family members, can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1).

When responding to callers, it’s usually recommended that the caller follow up to determine if the problem is PTSD related. “Sometimes a hospital stay is required,” said Mostkoff, “usually brief” at a mental health outpatient clinic for common problems such as substance abuse, anxiety or depression.

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