If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Illinois bans gay “reparative” therapy

September 1, 2015

gay lgbt flagOn August 20, 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into effect legislation (2015 IL S.B. 838) prohibiting therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person under the age of 18.  This practice is commonly known as gay “reparative” or “conversion” therapy.  The law takes effect January 1 and will subject violators to discipline from state licensing boards.  California (Cal.Bus. & Prof.Code 865.2), New Jersey (N.J.S.A. 45:1-54), Oregon (OR Laws 2015, Ch. 79, §1), and the District of Columbia (DC ST 7-1231.14a) have already enacted similar laws.

The Illinois legislation is being hailed as the most comprehensive in the nation, and the first to link gay conversion therapy to consumer fraud.  Arguing against the practice, Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who sponsored the legislation and is openly gay, stated that “Every major scientific organization has dismissed conversion therapy as harmful.  The Illinois Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, and so many more have not only disproven its utility, but they have decried its effects.”  Cassidy also asserted that children rejected due to sexual orientation are at greater risk of depression and attempted suicide.

The Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (the “APA”) condemned conversion therapy years ago.  In a policy manual adopted August 14, 1997, the APA unequivocally averred that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, and it strongly encouraged “all mental health professionals to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientation.”  The policy manual also highlighted the fact that children and youth often face substantial pressure to conform to societal sexual norms and lack sufficient legal protection from coercive treatment.

Now that four states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to protect L.G.B.T. youth from reparative therapy, perhaps more states will follow suit.  Today’s youth don’t need to be repaired.

They need to be valued.

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