President Obama has been adamant over the last few years about his support of LGBT rights, and when he was recently asked to weigh in on a petition calling on him to create a law to ban LGBT conversion therapies, Obama responded by calling for an end to such conversion therapies.
The petition was created after the tragic death of 17-year-old transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide after being pulled out of school and forced to undergo conversion therapy by her parents, who wanted her to stop self-identifying as a transgender woman.
Yesterday, Obama responded to the petition with a statement written by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
“Thank you for taking the time to sign on to this petition in support of banning the practice known as conversion therapy.
“Conversion therapy generally refers to any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Often, this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions. We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.
“When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts. 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.
“As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
We applaud Obama on responding so positively to the petition and sending the message that the White House is supportive of creating a safe and nurturing environment for LGBT people. It’s unclear right now whether Obama will craft an anti-gay conversion therapy law, but his public criticism of such therapies is a good first step in that direction.