Conversion Therapy Ban
From the New York Times (2/12/14):
Therapy programs that purport to “convert” lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender kids have caused immeasurable harm since they became prominent in the 1970s. Rigorous studies have shown again and again that efforts to change young people’s sexual orientation not only fail, but are also linked to suicidal behavior, depression, anxiety, drug use and risky sexual behavior.
The Youth Mental Health Protection Act, sponsored by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy in the House (House Bill 217) and by state Sen. Daniel Biss in the Senate (Senate Bill 111), was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly early in 2015, and Equality Illinois announced its intention to make passage of the bill a priority during the legislative session.
“Illinois should be at the forefront of banning this failed and discredited non-therapy that attempts to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
The House passed the legislation on May 19, 2015, and the Senate approved it on May 29, 2015. Equality Illinois held discussions with Gov. Bruce Rauner and his staff about the importance of these protections and introduced the governor to two conversion therapy survivors to share their stories with him.
Gov. Rauner signed the bill into law on August 20, 2015.
Bans on conversion therapy have now been enacted into law in Illinois, California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. with bipartisan support.
In March 2015, Illinois mental health experts released a letter saying efforts to force LGBT youth to change are harmful and ineffective and urged state action to stop it. Read their letter here. “Sexual orientation and gender identity are not mental disorders or diseases, and, therefore, ethical mental health practitioners should not attempt to ‘cure’ or ‘repair’ LGBT people through the use of sexual orientation change efforts,” the experts said.
Illinois banned conversion therapy for minors because…
From the Human Rights Campaign:
There is ample evidence that societal pressures directly related to conversion therapy cause significant medical, psychological and other harms to LGBT children. For example, research on the issue of family acceptance of LGBT youth conducted at San Francisco State University found that “compared with LGBT young people who were not rejected or were only a little rejected by their parents and caregivers because of their gay or transgender identity, highly rejected LGBT young people were:
The experts weigh in:
American Academy of Pediatrics
“Confusion about sexual orientation is not unusual during adolescence. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or for those who are uncertain about how to express their sexuality and might profit from an attempt at clarification through a counseling or psychotherapeutic initiative. Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”
American Medical Association
“Our AMA… opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
National Association of Social Workers
“People seek mental health services for many reasons. Accordingly, it is fair to assert that lesbians and gay men seek therapy for the same reasons that heterosexual people do. However, the increase in media campaigns, often coupled with coercive messages from family and community members, has created an environment in which lesbians and gay men often are pressured to seek reparative or conversion therapies, which cannot and will not change sexual orientation. Aligned with the American Psychological Association’s (1997) position, NCLGB [NASW’s National Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues] believes that such treatment potentially can lead to severe emotional damage. Specifically, transformational ministries are fueled by stigmatization of lesbians and gay men, which in turn produces the social climate that pressures some people to seek change in sexual orientation. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.”
IT DOESN’T WORK.
In 2007, a task force of the American Psychological Association undertook a thorough review of the existing research on the efficacy of conversion therapy. Their report noted that there was very little methodologically sound research on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCEs) and that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE.” In addition, the task force found that “there are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom.”
In short, there is clear evidence that conversion therapy does not work, and some significant evidence that it is also harmful to LGBT people. Equality Illinois is hopeful that other states will follow suit.