CHICAGO – An online petition was launched yesterday by a coalition dedicated to fighting so called conversion therapy of LGBT youth in Illinois, urging state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner to support legislation banning the practice.
The petition, which can be found here, calls for passage of the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act introduced as House Bill 217 by openly gay state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and Senate Bill 111 by state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston). Signatures will be shared with lawmakers and Gov. Rauner, a Republican, as the bills move their way through both chambers. 
According to Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, the measure serves to protect the LGBT youth in Illinois from harmful and ineffective sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (also referred to as conversion therapy) by prohibiting licensed mental health providers from engaging in these efforts. The law would not apply to religious leaders and would not impact the ability of clergy to practice their religion.
Every major medical and mental health association agrees that conversion therapy is ineffective and dangerous. Young people who face rejection because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression are more likely to have high levels of depression, more likely to engage in substance abuse, and more likely to attempt suicide.
The coalition backing the effort includes Equality Illinois, Youth Service Project, Prairie Pride Coalition, Center on Halsted, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Illinois Coalition for Adolescent Health, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and PFLAG National.
In drafting the bill, Rep. Cassidy pointed to the danger conversion therapy has on the mental health of LGBT youth who are rejected by their families: "In one study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection," the bill says.

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