Obama to Support Efforts to End Conversion Therapy for Gay and Transgender Youth

The death of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide in December after her parents forced her to attend conversion therapy, has initiated a lot of reactions, perhaps the largest of which is a whitehouse.gov petition that calls for an end to conversion therapy on gay and transgender youth. The petition has garnered more than 120,000 signatures—enough for President Obama to make a response and take action to forbid mental health practitioners from working to “repair” LGBT youth.

leelah alcorn

Leelah Alcorn

“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth,” read a statement by Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Supports is the keyword. The New York Times reports that “Mr. Obama will not explicitly call for a federal law banning therapists from using such therapies on their patients, but he is open to conversations with lawmakers in both parties. … Instead, he will throw his support behind the efforts to ban the practice at the state level.”

So it’s not the sweeping presidential ban most of us were hoping for, but it’s good to hear the White House speaking out about the issue, and bringing attention to it in parts of the world who may not be aware of the harmful benefits of conversion therapy on LGBT youth. It’s also a touching tribute to the memory of Miss Leelah. Stay tuned for updates.

For confidential support if you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Learn about the warning signs of suicide at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.