Obama calls for end to conversion therapy for LGBT youth

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama AP

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is calling for an end to psychiatric therapy treatments aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT youth.

The move comes in response to an online petition posted on the White House website following the death of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn. The transgender teen committed suicide in December and left behind writings mentioning religious therapy.

In a statement late Wednesday, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said the administration supports banning so-called conversion therapy treatments for minors.

“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.”

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The White House is not explicitly calling for congressional legislation to ban the therapies nationwide. But Jarrett’s statement highlighted states that have outlawed the practice and expressed hope that there will be broader action.

The White House says lawmakers in 18 states have introduced legislation similar to measures already in place in California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., banning licensed professionals from using conversion therapy on minors.

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