11 Mar PRESS RELEASE: Youth Leaders to Meet with Illinois Legislators to Advocate for Rights
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS (March 24th, 2015) Youth leaders from the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health will be meeting with their legislators in Springfield to advocate for the rights and health of young people, regardless of identity. Specifically, the youth leaders, ages 16-24, are standing in opposition to conversion therapy and asking for a repeal of the dangerous Parental Notification of Abortion Law in Illinois.
Conversion therapy has been defined as a set of behavioral or psychoanalytic practices that attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Mental health organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association have issued statements in opposition to conversion therapy, citing its numerous physical, emotional, mental, and psychological harms and affirming its inability to change one’s identity.
ICAH has been advocating against conversion therapy since October 2012 when they teamed up with the Southern Poverty Law Center to file a complaint with the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation against a Bloomingdale-based social worker providing conversion therapy services as a licensed mental health professional. As the 99th Illinois General Assembly begins its two-year term, ICAH has joined a coalition of LGBTQ, mental health, and youth-serving organizations to oppose conversion therapy at the legislative level. In January 2015, Senator Daniel Biss (D-9th) and Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-14th) introduced the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act (SB11/HB217), with the goal of following in the footsteps of California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C, which passed similar bills in 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively.
Like its predecessors, Illinois’ bills would prohibit conversion therapy efforts of licensed mental health providers to change the sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression of a person under the age of 18. As an organization, ICAH believes all youth should be safe, affirmed, and healthy, and sees the conversion therapy ban bills as one step toward ending what we have called “a practice that is unethical and destructive to the health of young people.”
Youth leaders will also be asking for a repeal of the forced Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) law in Illinois, which requires that any person under 17 years of age seeking access to abortion services must have an adult family member (someone over 21 who is a parent, grandparent, step-parent who lives with you, or legal guardian) notified 48 hours before a medical provider can perform the abortion.
While ICAH’s youth leaders encourage conversations between youth and families, they believe state mandated communication about having an abortion puts youth in danger of violence, homelessness, or unsafe means of terminating a pregnancy. While research shows that most youth who seek abortion access do select a trusted adult for support, not all young people have a safe home or an understanding adult family member with whom they can trust with these critical decisions. Therefore, youth who cannot risk notifying an adult family member can either request a judicial bypass of parental notification, or travel as far as Nevada or Washington, DC in order to access safe, legal abortion care.
ICAH’s Advocacy Day will focus on amplifying the stories of youth while encouraging intergenerational conversations around trans and queer youth identity, sex, sexuality, pregnancy, abortion and the ways we can work together to create safe spaces for these conversations. The youth participants are looking forward to the opportunity to engage legislators from their districts in these conversations.
WEBSITE: http://icah.org and http://stoppna.org/
WHEN: March 24th, 2015
Youth will be available for interviews.
Nikki Zaleski, Education & Arts Justice Coordinator
Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
firstname.lastname@example.org | (312) 427-4460 ext. 234
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