Illinois Becomes Fifth Jurisdiction to Protect LGBTQ Kids from Conversion Therapy

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (August 20, 2015)—Today, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 217 into law, making Illinois the fifth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon—to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

House Bill 217, which protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through these practices, which are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide, was overwhelmingly approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and General Assembly. The law will go into effect January 1, 2016.

“We are thrilled that Illinois has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator and Staff Attorney Sam Ames. “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. Most importantly, Illinois kids can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to fix who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

“With this tremendous step, LGBT youth in Illinois are now protected from a dangerous and appalling practice based on junk pseudoscience that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “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. We thank Governor Rauner, as well as members of the state legislature on both sides of the aisle, for putting politics aside and the well-being of children first. We will continue to work with our allies to secure these crucial protections in every state across the nation.”

NCLR and HRC, in conjunction with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Equality Illinois, and other groups, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported HB 217, including national LGBTQ organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations. NCLR and HRC have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including laws passed in California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, and now Illinois.

Last year, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Illinois is the third state to pass such a law in 2015 alone.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

Illinois Bill Protecting LGBT Youth from Conversion Therapy Moves to Governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (May 29, 2015)—Today, the Illinois State Senate voted 34-19 to pass House Bill 217, the Illinois Youth Mental Health Protection Act that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of conversion therapy. The bill was overwhelmingly approved 68-43 by the State House earlier this month and is heading to the desk of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

If signed into law, the bill would make Illinois the fifth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon—to enact a law protecting LGBT youth from the lifelong damage caused by these practices, which have been linked to substance abuse, depression, and even suicide.

National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) #BornPerfect™ Campaign Coordinator Sam Ames said: “We couldn’t be prouder to add Illinois to the list of legislatures that have acted to protect LGBT youth, and we applaud the dedication of Equality Illinois and the tireless coalition on the ground. We hope Governor Bruce Rauner will join fellow Republicans like Chris Christie, who signed New Jersey’s conversion therapy ban in 2013. No matter our sexual orientation, gender identity, or political party, we can all agree that children’s lives are worth protecting. We call on Governer Rauner to sign this lifesaving bill and protect LGBT youth and their families from these dangerous and fraudulent practices.”

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said: “By passing this important legislation, Illinois lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood up for equality and against a dangerous practice that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention. We urge Governor Rauner to sign this bipartisan legislation into law and protect the state’s youth from this harmful and discredited practice.”

NCLR and HRC, in conjunction with Equality Illinois, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported HB 217, including national LGBT organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, and civil rights organizations.

HRC and NCLR have partnered with state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation to end this dangerous practice, including the laws passed in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. In August of 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law, which was signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. On Monday May 4, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold New Jersey’s law, which was signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August of 2013. NCLR attorneys have assisted in the defense of every state bill to date.


Born Perfect is a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy created by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.