Gay conversion therapy, the practice of trying to cure a person of homosexuality through counseling, is now banned in many states. The debate is now in the lap of Illinois politicians as pressure ramps up for a state ban.
California, New Jersey and Washington D.C. were the first to ban the practice. Now this week, 18 other states, including Illinois are calling for a vote.
The Obama administration is encouraging state lawmakers to end conversion therapy in response to a petition named in honor Leelah Alcorn. Alcorn was the 17-year-old transgender teen who left a note pleading for the end to conversion therapy before taking her own life last December. That petition garnered more than 200,000 signatures in just two days.
At the heart of the fight is religion vs. science, a tricky topic since so few people who have gone through the therapy have been willing to speak out.
Mathew Shurka's father insisted he see a gay conversion therapist. A therapist who told him that there was no such thing as homosexuality and because he was young, he could cure him that much quicker.
Mathew speaks to WGN news about the process, the damaged he says it caused and what has helped him heal.
He is also determined to make certain other teens do not go through the same thing he did. His campaign slogan is called “Born Perfect.” And it's caught the attention of Illinois lawmakers.
WGN’s Erin McElroy has more.