On April 8, the White House announced that President Obama supports a ban on “conversion therapy” for LGBT youth, which targets minors and uses controversial tactics in an attempt to change one’s sexual identity or orientation.
Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior advisor, released a statement, saying that the administration strongly believes in the importance of familial support for gay and transgendered youth.
“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth. As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
The support to ban conversion therapy comes on the heels of the highly publicized suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, who threw herself in front of a tractor trailer on December 31, 2014, after penning a suicide note in which she blamed her parents for sending her to Christian therapists who did nothing but continuously tell her she was wrong, instead of helping her understand herself and rid her of her depression.
“When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong.
“My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.”
Leelah’s suicide prompted a “We The People” petition, which garnered more than 120,000 signatures since its inception in January, that hoped to enact Leelah’s Law, a law which would legally ban all practices relating to conversion (or “reparative,” as it’s also known) therapy.
Support for the ban of conversion therapy is already seen throughout a few states, such as California, New Jersey, and Washington D.C., but measures to put the ban in place in other states have failed thus far. In her statement on the support of the ban, Jarrett is hopeful that eventually more states will come out in support, though it won’t necessarily be easy.
“While a national ban would require congressional action, we are hopeful that the clarity of the evidence combined with the actions taken by these states will lead to broader action that this administration would support.”
The president isn’t the only one who supports a ban on conversion therapy. It is been the stance of the American Psychiatric Association that conversion therapy is potentially harmful, and at the very least completely useless, as it stems from the ideology that homosexuality is a mental illness, which the APA has openly disagreed with since 1973, when they removed it as a mental disorder in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
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