New York State to require training in care based on sexual orientation

State lawmakers are requiring training for home health aides, personal care aides and certified nurse aides who work with patients of diverse sexual orientations.

The state Assembly earlier this week passed A.612, a chapter amendment to legislation passed by the legislature and signed into law in 2022 by Gov. Kathy Hochul. Chapter 737 of the Laws of 2022 mandates the state Health Department to develop a training program unit within six months from the date the legislation took effect. A.612 changes the law’s wording to say the state will “require training” rather than develop the training while extending the time to start training from six months to 12 months. The chapter amendment passed the state Assembly 115-28 with both Assemblymen Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, voting against it.

“To be honest with you, I really don’t understand why the quality of care or the standards of care or the medical services that are provided to a patient in a medical facility should in any way depend on whether they like men or women or both or neither or don’t know,” Goodell said. “A person’s sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation should have zero impact on their right to receive high quality care. I’m concerned that we have legislation which purports to require people who are in the health care field to take raining that focuses on how to work with people based on diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Our standards should be very clear and unequivocal and I don’t think it needs specialized training. Every single person, regardless of who they are, regardless of their wealth, regardless of their color, regardless of their sexual orientation, their gender or anything else, should be entitled to a high quality of care. We shouldn’t need specialized training to say that simple fact and take away from the training or studies on that quality of care. For that reason I will continue to oppose this amendment which, as the sponsor acknowledged, does nothing substantive to the original bill.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, wrote in his legislative justification training will help bridge a gap between home health aides, personal care aides and certified nurse aids who care for patients of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities or expressions of all ages. Dinowitz said altering the language in state law from mandating the Health Department to “develop a training program unit” to “require training” provides additional flexibilities to the Health Department to determine requirements for new and current employees, such as incorporating training into certification training or provide training as in-service training. The Health Department will also be able to determine the frequency of the training and when the training should be offered in-person or virtually.

“I actually rise to commend my colleague. I do hear the words of my colleague on the other side of the aisle and honestly, I respect him, but I know the reality of the life that we live right now in New York and right now in America,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo and Assembly majority leader. “And even though people have chosen or are of a different race or whatever, there are some other people who have been trained not to like that. And even though they have the job, they still have to do it, and so sometimes you do need to have extra training or sensitivity to work with the people who need the service. If, in fact, Mr. Speaker, that was not a problem there wouldn’t be such disparities in health care, clearly. So I think the sponsor of this legislation is on the right track with this.”


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