Coalition Against Conversion Therapy Launches Online Petition
CHICAGO (March 6, 2015) – A coalition to fight discredited and dangerous conversion therapy of LGBT youth launched an online petition drive today to urge Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner to support legislation banning the practice.
The petition, at http://tinyurl.com/conversion-therapy-ban, backs the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act introduced as House Bill 217 by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Senate Bill 111 by state Sen. Daniel Biss. The petition will be shared with lawmakers and Gov. Rauner in the months ahead as the bills move through the legislative process.
This measure serves to protect the health of LGBT youth in Illinois from harmful and ineffective sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (also referred to as conversion therapy) by prohibiting licensed mental health providers from engaging in these efforts. The law would not not apply to religious leaders and would not impact the ability of clergy to practice their religion.
Every major medical and mental health association agrees that conversion therapy is ineffective and dangerous. Young people who face rejection because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression are more likely to have high levels of depression, more likely to engage in substance abuse, and more likely to attempt suicide.
The coalition backing the effort includes Equality Illinois, Youth Service Project, Prairie Pride Coalition, Center on Halsted, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Illinois Coalition for Adolescent Health, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and PFLAG National.
When the legislation was introduced, Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, pledged to make it a priority during the current session of the General Assembly. More actions pushing the measure are planned for the weeks ahead.
In drafting the bill, Rep. Cassidy cited the increased risk to the mental health of LGBT youth who are rejected by their families. “In one study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection,” the bill says.
The coalition is urging all concerned individuals and organizations who believe LGBT youth need to be protected from the practice of conversion therapy to join the effort by signing the petition at http://tinyurl.com/conversion-therapy-ban.