On Aug. 20, 2015, Illinois passed House Bill 217 to protect LGBTQ youth by banning conversion therapy. It is time to end this harmful practice in all 50 states. Thirty-nine states currently have proposed or passed some type of legislation to stop conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that has subjected more than 700,000 LGBTQ victims to shaming and emotional trauma that often ends in depression or even suicide. The rejection and condemnation felt by those forced into this therapy is inhumane.
The American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization have concluded that conversion therapy represents a threat to the health and well-being of affected people. They do not support this therapy.
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All of our youth deserve to be loved and embraced for who they are. They need to be surrounded by parents, faith leaders, school personnel, neighbors, friends, and families who are accepting and will openly celebrate them. Parents of LGBTQ youth often find themselves in positions of searching for answers. Wanting the best for their children leaves the parents in a vulnerable spot; an easy target for those who align with conversion therapy.
It is time to end conversion therapy and the harm it is doing to our youth. Thank you, Illinois, for taking a step forward in the ban of a cruel practice. Hopefully, more states will follow. This is not a partisan issue. It is a humanitarian one.
Julie Knutson, Bloomington