WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – US President Barack Obama is calling for an end to so-called conversion therapies that seek to change sexual or gender orientation of young homosexuals or transgenders.
In a note posted online before her death, Alcorn wrote about being forced to undergo conversion therapy by her parents.
Obama said young people must be given the right to choose and live safely regardless of sexual orientation.
"Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let's say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he's held as long as he can remember," Obama said in a statement Wednesday.
"What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us -- on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build."
The online petition has received more than 120,000 signatures in the past three months.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Obama said the therapy, also called "reparative" treatment, are morally and medically damaging.
"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," Jarrett said in a statement.
"As part of our dedication to protecting America's youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors."
Obama has been a vocal supporter of gay rights, both on US soil and abroad and is the first US president to come out in support of same-sex marriage.
As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.
The use of conversion therapy
The medical and mental health communities have long made clear that they reject the practice of conversion therapy, aimed at “changing” one’s sexual orientation. Recently, efforts to change an individual’s gender identity have also been shown in countless instances to have dangerous effects. More than 40 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and in 1998 released a statement “[opposing] any psychiatric treatment, such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy.” It asserted that “such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized attitudes.”2
Similarly, the American Psychological Association has repeatedly affirmed its stance against these practices, recently stating that efforts to change an individual’s sexual orientation canpose serious health risks to LGBTQ+ individuals. Numerous other accredited medical and mental health organizations have echoed this sentiment, including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, theAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Counseling Association.
As part of their duty to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens, several states have taken their own steps to protect minors from the potentially dangerous effects of conversion therapy. California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have all banned licensed professionals from using conversion therapy on minors. Since last year, lawmakers in 18 other states have introduced similar legislation.
In a 2013 signing statement for his state’s legislative ban, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie expressed that “exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of the benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”3 In February 2015, a New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that advertising a service that could change a person’s sexuality is fraudulent and violates the state’s consumer protection laws.
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 importance of family support
Family relationships are pivotal to the physical and emotional well-being of any child, including LGBTQ+ youth. Every child needs love, support, and acceptance to grow, dream, and thrive. LGBTQ+ youth with supportive families and friends show greater well-being, better general health, and significantly decreased risk for suicide, depression, and substance abuse.4
Countless families and guardians across the country proudly support their LGBTQ+ children. Too many LGBTQ+ youth, however, lack this support system, which can have devastating consequences. Negative family reactions to LGBTQ+ youth can be perceived as rejection by children, often contributing to serious health issues and inhibiting a child’s development and well-being.5 And when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth, some actions by family and caregivers can be harmful, despite even the best intentions.
This Administration believes that young people should be valued for who they are, no matter what they look like, where they’re from, the gender with which they identify, or who they love.
We hope that the resources below can be of use to LGBTQ+ youth, their families, and friends.
LGBTQ+ youth issues are an Administration priority: Resources for LGBTQ+ youth, their families, and friends
In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services launched StopBullying.gov, aimed at providing valuable resources and support to youth, parents, and community members with the goal of building a safe environment for all youth, including LGBTQ+ youth.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) supports positive dialogues between providers, families, and LGBTQ+ youth, and has developed A Practitioner's Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children to help providers implement best practices in engaging and helping families and caregivers to support their LGBTQ+ children.
LGBTQ+ youth homelessness
To advance the Administration's goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020, federal agencies have developed partnerships to create and promote a research-informed framework that focuses on improving data quality and service capacity to support highly vulnerable homeless youth, including LGBTQ+ youth, youth involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems, and pregnant and parenting youth.
Our friends at Box Turtle gave a timely update as well:
So it appears that there is something called Former Ex-Gay Leaders Alliance (FELA) which is comprised of (not surprisingly) former ex-gay leaders. FELA has issued a statement in support of the Obama Administration’s opposition to reparative therapy for minors.
Banning reparative therapy for minors from licensed clinical mental health professionals assures young people can find solace and solidarity in the scientific community, while holding mental health workers accountable. It does not limit them, or their parents, from seeking spiritual advice from clergy. It does however, send a clear message that the practice of sexual orientation change efforts does not work, and should alert and alarm guardians of its potentially dangerous, or even deadly, effects.
As one would never send a patient to a doctor to perform unethical, unnecessary, and outdated medicine, it is time to hold mental health practitioners to similar standards. We welcome President Obama’s statement and stand with him in opposition to reparative therapy for minors, and call on everyone, regardless of political affiliation, to stand with us and put an end, once and for all, to this practice.
Brad Allen – Exodus International
Darlene Bogle – Paraklete Ministries
Michael Bussee – Exodus International
Catherine Chapman – Portland Fellowship
Jeremy Marks – Courage UK, Exodus Europe
John Paulk – Love Won Out, Exodus International
Bill Prickett – Coming Back
Tim Rymel – Love in Action
Yvette Cantu Schneider – Exodus International, Family Research Council
John J. Smid – Love In Action, Exodus International
Randy Thomas – Exodus International
Michael D. Watt – Love in Action
Kevin White – Exodus Books
Yesterday Alan Chambers, former President of Exodus International, gave his support to the Administration’s position.
THE JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT SCHIZOPHRENIC ON HUMAN RIGHTS ?