Illinois follows California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon in prohibiting mental health providers from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth. HB 217, known as the “Youth Mental Health Protection Act,” makes it illegal for any “mental health provider” to engage in “sexual orientation change efforts” with a person younger than 18 years old.
The law prohibits providers from referring a patient to anyone else for the purposes of attempting to change their sexual orientation and prohibits advertising of conversion therapy services in a manner that represents homosexuality as a “mental disease, disorder, or illness.”
HB 217 also adds such therapy to the list of services covered under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, giving the right to sue to those injured as a result of therapy.
The law will go into effect January 1.
“We are thrilled that Illinois has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Samantha Ames said in a statement. “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.”
Opponents of the practice claim those LGBTQ youth who have been put through conversion therapy have higher incidents of substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide. The Obama administration in April called for a nationwide ban on the practice.
“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,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin said in a statement.