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Legislation (A.9604/S.8937) Authorizes Runaway and Homeless Youth Under 18 Receiving Support Services To Consent to their Medical, Dental, Health, and Hospital Care

Legislation (A.1880A/S.2534A) Requires Home Health Aides and Nurse’s Aides To Receive Training in Working with Patients of Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package that will address health care disparities in the LGBTQ+ community. By allowing runaway and homeless youth under 18 to make their own health care decisions and better equipping nurse and home health aides to work with LGBTQ+ populations, these new laws will expand protections in health care settings for individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. 

“Every member of the LGBTQ+ community deserves health care that is available, accessible, and equitable,” Governor Hochul said. “It is critical that we create a more welcoming, inclusive, and affirming health care environment in order to improve health care outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly vulnerable youth. We will continue to press forward in the fight for LGBTQ+ equity in New York State.” 

Legislation (A.9604/S.8937) authorizes runaway and homeless youth under 18 to consent to their medical, dental, health, and hospital care. LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately represented in runaway and homeless youth populations, making up over 40 percent of this group, and transgender and gender nonconforming youth are particularly overrepresented in these groups. Current law generally requires parental consent for minors to receive health care unless the minor is married or has a child, which can be a particularly huge barrier to accessing health care for minors who are homeless or who have run away from their homes. This legislation will enable individuals who meet the definitions of runaway or homeless youth who receive services at an approved runaway and homeless youth crisis services program or transitional independent living support program to consent to their own health care. 

State Senator Jabari Brisport said, “The unfortunate reality is that many young people — especially LGBTQ+ youth — do not have safe homes with loving families; denying these kids access to basic health care compounds the already significant harms they face. As both a gay man and as the Chair of the Children & Families Committee, I’m very proud of this legislation to protect access to medical care for homeless and runaway youth.” 

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said, “Young people under 18 generally require parental consent to get health care. This is generally a sensible rule. But for homeless youths and those being served by runaway youth programs, getting a parent’s consent can be an obstacle to care. A parent may be too difficult to reach; the family situation may make the consent process dangerous or impossible; delaying care might damage the young person’s health. This bill, building on a proposal by Governor Hochul, will enable more of these young people to consent to their own health care if they have actual mental capacity to make a health care decision.” 

Legislation (A.1880A/S.2534A) requires home health aides and nurse’s aides to receive training in working with patients of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Many patients identifying as LGBTQ+ report having difficulty finding health care where they feel included and accepted, and some individuals have reported being refused care because of their identity. This new law will require training that specifically addresses the needs of patients of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, which will ensure that these patients receive culturally competent care. 

State Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “I commend Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law to provide home health aides and nurses’ aides with the training they need to offer the best care to patients of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. This is another step our State is taking to adhere to our values of equality and respect within our healthcare system.” 

Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “New York is composed of a beautiful mosaic of people from all different types of backgrounds and identities, and it is important that we recognize this diversity at every age and medical status. Adding language to help home health workers and nurse’s aides provide better, more culturally sensitive care is a common sense solution to ensure that our training programs reflect the modern world we live in. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this important bill into law.”