Bill to Prohibit Abusive Conversion Therapy on Children Moves Forward in IL: Mental Health Organizations Release Statement

Bill to Prohibit Abusive Conversion Therapy on Children Moves Forward in IL:
Mental Health Organizations Release Statement 


3-17/2015 State Representative Kelly Cassidy will be calling HB 217 for a vote in committee today, seeking to prohibit sexual orientation conversion therapy, a practice deemed disastrous for the well being of children by every prominent mental health organization.

"This archaic form of so-called treatment is based on an outdated and flawed philosophy that greatly increases the risk of suicide and mental anguish to the children who are forced to participate” said Cassidy. “Today I join with the most respected mental health organizations in our state to call for an immediate end to this abuse.”

A joint letter signed by 14 organizations representing groups including pediatricians, psychologists and psychiatrists strongly criticized the practice, stating that youth forced into the practice are “more likely to have high levels of depression,engage in substance abuse, and attempt suicide.”

Mental Health Organizations Support SB 111/HB 217

Protect LGBT Youth in Illinois by Banning Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

We, the undersigned professional mental health, medical and academic organizations, strongly support the Illinois Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act - Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 217. The Act protects the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth from harmful and ineffective sexual orientation change efforts, which are also referred to as conversion therapy.

Our position is guided by scientific evidence and an adherence to the medical dictum to “First, do no harm.”

To justify sexual orientation change efforts, conversion therapists define homosexuality as a sickness or disorder requiring conversion therapy. However, 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.

Efforts to “convert” or “repair” a LGBT person are based on theories with questionable scientific validity. In fact, over the last four decades, conversion therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific evidence to prove their claims of a cure. Instead, sexual orientation change efforts are often guided by forces opposed to civil rights for LGBT people.

Such bias against people based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity negatively affects the mental health of LGBT people. In fact, LGBT youth who experience rejection and social stigmatization are more likely to have high levels of depression, more likely to engage in substance abuse, and more likely to attempt suicide.

We firmly believe that ethical practitioners in Illinois should refrain from attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Furthermore, to protect the mental and physical health of LGBT youth, we strongly support and urge the Illinois General Assembly and Governor to approve the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act – Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 217. 


Karla Steingraber, Psy.D
Acting President, Illinois Psychological Assocciation 
Robert Garofalo, MD
Division Head Adolescent Medicine, Lurie Children's Hospital
Barbara Bayldon, MD
President, Illinois Chapther, American Academy of Pediatrics
Erica Schmidt, MSW
Director, Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis
Joel Rubin
Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers-IL Chapter
Mark Smaller, PhD
President, American Psychoanalytic Association
James MacKenzie, DO
President, Illinois Psychiatric Society
Ramon Gardenhire
Vice President Policy & Advocacy, AIDS Foundation of Chicago
Raymound E Crossman, PhD
President, Alder University
Tom Huges
Executive Director, Illinois Public Health Association
Scott Hams Rose, PhD
President & Dean, Institute for Clinical Social Work
Daniel Stasi
Executive Director
Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association
Illinois School Counselor Association
Coalition of Illinois Counselors