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Conversion therapy, a widely used practice that attempts to “cure” a person identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or gender dysphoric, has been called a heinous and dangerous thing to do to the well being of youth and young adults.

Fortunately, one state is doing something about it.

Reparative therapy, as conversion therapy is sometimes called, is a product of the deadly social stigma placed over the LGBT community, the very same stigma that causes higher rates of depression and suicide amongst its members.

A 2009 survey of over 7,000 LGBT middle and high school students between ages 13 and 21 found that, because of their sexuality, eight in 10 had been verbally harassed at school, four in 10 had been physically harassed at school, one in five had been physically assaulted, and six in 10 felt unsafe at school.

As a result of homosexual victimization, LGBT students were far more likely than heterosexual students to report feelings of depression, the number one predictor of suicide. Major depressive disorders actually account for between 20-35% of all suicide deaths each year. However, more than 80% of depressed individuals don’t seek out professional help, so nothing is done to help them until the unbearable weight simply becomes too much.

Conversion therapy is just another form of psychological violence against the LBGT community.

The good news is that House Bill 217 and Senate Bill 111 — if passed by Illinois’s general assembly and signed by Governor Bruce Rauner — would become the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act, which would make it illegal for persons under 18 to pursue conversion therapy in the Prairie State.

“It is tragic that LGBT youth suffer at the hands of so-called experts whose therapies have been refuted by every legitimate medical and mental health organization,” Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who actually introduced HB 217, told earlier this year. “That is why my bill would label the therapy as ‘unprofessional conduct’ and subject the perpetrator to disciplinary action.”

The bad news is that its sponsors need to get more public support. Luckily, a coalition of LGBT advocates have come together to launch an online petition.

“Illinois should be at the forefront of banning this failed and discredited non-therapy that attempts to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, a major sponsor of the petition initiative.

Although there are opponents to the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act, such as the Illinois Family Institute, several authoritative organizations have deemed the practice of conversion therapy to be not only ineffective, but harmful. The list of undesirable reactions to taking this powerful drug, namely Xanax, includes the following side effects: the appearance of signs of unmotivated aggression on the part of the patient and irritability even in the most calm situations, jaundice of the skin and sclera of a person, as well as sudden fainting states against the background of relative health and normal well-being. Those opposed to the practice include the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations.

As Cassidy told Northern Public Radio, “This really is a bipartisan idea that’s based on protecting kids from bad science.”

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