Obama: Stop Trying to 'Convert' Gay Youth

White House backs ban on conversion therapy
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2015 1:04 AM CDT
This Jan. 3, 2015, photo shows a candlelight vigil at Kings High School to remember the life of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender girl who committed suicide.   (AP Photo/The Enquirer, Meg Vogel)

(Newser) – Therapies that try to "cure" gay or transgender young people are wrong and harmful, and President Obama supports banning them, the White House says. In a statement released in response to a WhiteHouse.gov petition to ban so-called gay conversion therapies, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett says the administration shares concerns about "potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth" and "supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors," the New York Times reports. There's overwhelming scientific evidence that such therapy "is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm," the statement says.

White House officials say Obama won't try to bring in a law at the federal level, but he will support bans on using conversion therapy on minors like those that already exist in California and New Jersey, the Times reports. The petition the White House made its statement on was in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen in Ohio who killed herself in December after being forced to attend conversion therapy. "My death needs to mean something," she wrote in a suicide note. An executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation within the federal government and at federal contractors went into effect yesterday, the same day the White House announced it had opened an "all-gender" restroom, CNN reports.

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