Obama calls for end to ‘conversion’ therapy for LGBT youth

The White House said Wednesday that the administration is supporting a ban on psychiatric therapy treatments aimed at changing a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

President Barack Obama is calling for an end to this ‘conversion’ treatment following a petition posted to the White House after the death of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn. The transgender teen committed suicide last year and left a note behind that said her parents made her go to conversion therapy, according to USA Today.

White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett made a statement regarding the ban.

“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth,” Jarrett said. “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”

There is no call at this time for congressional legislation to ban the therapies nationwide. But the White House has strongly highlighted states that have already outlawed the practices, in hope to spark the movement on a broader scale.

So far, 18 states have created legislation similar to those in place in California, New Jersey and Washington D.C. These states have banned licensed professionals from using any type of conversion therapy on minors.

Also in overwhelming support and foundation for the ban, The American Psychiatric Association has long been opposed to the practice of conversion therapy. The organization has said that this is based on the assumption of some that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

Alcorn, the youth whose suicide started the movement in the White House, had narrated her life and concerns online about the depression and isolation that came along with her struggle. She clearly stated her frustration and concern that life would never get better, but increasingly worse. She said that her parents wanted her to be “their perfect little straight Christian boy.” She said she was taken to “Christian therapists” who were “very biased.”

The executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling, welcomed Obama’s statement.

“Having President Obama and the weight of the White House behind efforts to ban conversion therapy is so critical in the fight for transgender and LGB young people,” Keisling said in a statement.

“My hope is that when a transgender person’s struggle is acknowledged by one of the most recognizable figures in the world, it positively changes the way they view themselves. The pseudo-science that propels conversion therapy cannot match the self-acceptance that comes with this kind of change.”

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