Legislators in both the Illinois House and Senate in mid-February introduced bills that would outlaw so-called "conversion" therapy that claims to cure young people of homosexuality.
HB5569, introduced in the House Feb. 14 by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, forbids mental health providers from engaging in practices aimed at changing the sexual orientation of a person under the age of 18. It also says that any provider engaging in such efforts will be subject to action from their local licensing entity or disciplinary board.
Cassidy said that while she "had not been a tremendous number of complaints" about such therapy in the state, she had heard from several different constituents that they had encountered such therapists. "We want to do what we can to keep our LGBT youth safe," she said.
The bill is partially modeled on similar legislation that has been upheld in other states, such as California and New Jersey, Cassidy added. "I've been reaching out to health professionals to tweak the language and make sure we have something that is defensible."
She added that her colleagues have largely been supportive of the bill, as has Gov. Quinn. "There is a similar bill in the Senate, and we are working together to marry the two."
The Senate bill, SB3575, was also introduced in the state Feb. 14 by state Sen. William Delgado. It amends the Clinical Psychologist Licensing Act, Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act, Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Act and Professional Counselor and Clinical Professional Counselor Licensing and Practice Act to define "sexual orientation change efforts," and provides that a licensed professional cannot engage in such practices with a patient under the age of 18.
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said in a statement that Cassidy's bill "would ensure that the most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, are not targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate."
Gay Liberation Network (GLN), which has long spoken out against conversion therapy, added in a statement that it "emphatically supports the 'Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act' recently introduced into the Illinois House of Representatives by Kelly Cassidy. … The 'pray away the gay' and "ex-gay" myths have been the source of suicide and stunted lives, and are well documented as causing more harm than good."
Truth Wins Out's statement on Illinois bills
From a press release, February 25, 2014
Truth Wins Out today applauded lawmakers in both houses of the Illinois legislature for introducing bills to ban harmful, discredited "ex-gay" therapy for minors.
If passed, Illinois would follow in the footsteps of California and New Jersey in protecting innocent minors from these practices, which are not endorsed by any major medical or mental health association.
"The science is in on so-called reparative therapy. It doesn't work, and it hurts people," said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. "We applaud these Illinois lawmakers for standing up for science and quality mental health care by working to eliminate these harmful practices for the good of the citizens they were elected to represent, and especially for the kids of Illinois."
Truth Wins Out recently launched a comprehensive website, LGBTScience.org, where all the foremost scientists studying sexual orientation speak plainly about the current scientific consensus on sexuality. It is an unbiased resource for all interested in studying the scientific truth about sexual orientation. All major medical and mental health associations, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, have stated that reparative therapy is ineffective at best, and can be extremely harmful to clients.
Proponents of "reparative" or "ex-gay" therapy frequently couch the issue as a matter of religious freedom, but as the NALT Christians Project shows, one need not renounce religious faith in order to embrace science and best therapeutic practices for LGBT clients in crisis. Truth Wins Out encourages Illinois legislators not to be swayed by those who will falsely claim that their religious freedom is somehow threatened by passing a bill that ensures quality mental health care for Illinoisans.
As bills like this have worked through state legislatures, purveyors of "ex-gay" quackery have shown up to defend their right to hurt kids with their false teachings and beliefs, and Illinois will be no different. During New Jersey's debate, Christopher Doyle of the International Healing Foundation appeared as an advocate for allegedly former homosexuals, waving around a picture of his family has proof that reparative therapy works. Doyle has admitted that he tried to molest little girls in his mother's daycare when he was ten, a disturbing fact considering IHF's focus on youth and Doyle's status as an ill-credentialed counselor. In the same hearing, "ex-gay" activist Greg Quinlan attempted to paint those working to protect LGBT kids as abusers, dubbing it the "Jerry Sandusky Victimization Act." However, when Quinlan is around like-minded people, he is more inclined to practice verbal gay-bashing of his own, telling an anti-gay conference in 2010 that he was never a "limp-wristed, flaming faggot," a statement revelatory of his true feelings about LGBT people. New Jersey legislators saw the testimonies of these man as the nonsense they were, and passed the bill. Truth Wins Out urges Illinois lawmakers to follow their lead.
"'Ex-gay' charlatans will come to the Illinois legislature with junk science and promises of love and healing for LGBT kids, but their records show that their motivations are beyond insincere," said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. "Please, lawmakers, hear us: there's no scientific debate, this isn't about religious freedom, and these men are the exact sort of people that Illinois lawmakers should be working day and night to protect children from."