Legislators in Illinois and Virginia are once again trying to ban the use of "ex-gay" therapy on minors.
Bills to that effect failed last year in both states, but their sponsors have just reintroduced them.
In Illinois, Rep. Kelly Cassidy filed her bill Friday, Windy City Times reports. It would prohibit state-licensed practitioners from subjecting people under 18 to such therapy. Sen. Daniel Bliss plans to introduce a companion bill in the state Senate.
In Virginia, Patrick A. Hope, a member of the state House of Delegates, and Louise Lucas, a state senator, today introduced legislation to bar licensed therapists from using the practice on minors, according to a press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Lawmakers and groups backing the bills pointed out the harm done by so-called reparative therapy, which seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Every major mental health group in the U.S. has condemned such therapy as ineffective and harmful. California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have banned its use on minors. Such legislation generally does not affect religious-based counselors, who usually are not licensed by the state, nor does it interfere with adults who seek out such therapy.
"It is tragic," said a statement issued by Cassidy, "that LGBT youth suffer at the hands of so-called experts whose therapies have been refuted by every legitimate medical and mental health organization. That is why my bill would label the therapy as 'unprofessional conduct' and subject the perpetrator to disciplinary action."
"We cannot endanger the LGBT teens of Illinois by attempting to change who they are," said a statement from Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of LGBT rights group Equality Illinois. "We and other organizations that support LGBT youth hear their stories of rejection, and we must fight to help them. We are making the passage of the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act one of our legislative priorities of the 99th Illinois General Assembly." He and others noted that Leelah Alcorn, the transgender teen who recently committed suicide in Ohio, had been forced into conversion therapy.
NCLR, which is fighting conversion therapy through its #BornPerfect campaign, seeking to end the practice within five years, praised the Virginia legislators. "Today, more than ever, it is clear that state legislatures need to step up to the plate to protect LGBT youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of conversion therapy," NCLR staff attorney and #BornPerfect campaign coordinator Samantha Ames said in the press release. "We commend Delegate Hope and Senator Lucas as well all the local organizers who have worked tirelessly to get this bill introduced and ensure all Virginian children are able to grow up in communities and families where they are loved for exactly who they are."
"We know this is going on in Virginia," Hope told the Washington Blade recently. "The role of government is whenever we know there is some danger that's inherent, the government ought to step in."