Thursday, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 217 into law, making Illinois the fifth jurisdiction – behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon – to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.
House Bill 217, which protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through these practices, which are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide, was overwhelmingly approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and General Assembly. The law will go into effect January 1, 2016.
“We are thrilled that Illinois has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Samantha Ames. “Illinois families can now have confidence that the mental health professional they turn to in times of uncertainty may not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain. Most importantly, Illinois kids can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to fix who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”
“With this tremendous step, LGBT youth in Illinois are now protected from a dangerous and appalling practice based on junk pseudoscience that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “Discredited by every major mental health, medical, and child welfare organization, conversion ‘therapy’ uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. We thank Governor Rauner, as well as members of the state legislature on both sides of the aisle, for putting politics aside and the well-being of children first. We will continue to work with our allies to secure these crucial protections in every state across the nation.”
NCLR and HRC, in conjunction with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Equality Illinois, and other groups, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported HB 217, including national LGBTQ organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations.
NCLR and HRC have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including laws passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, and now Illinois.
Last year, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Illinois is the third state to pass such a law in 2015 alone.