Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

Tonight the Obama Administration threw its weight behind the movement to halt the harmful, widely debunked practice of conversion therapy.

“As a part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, the administration supports the effort to ban the use of conversation therapy on minor because there’s overwhelming scientific evidence that demonstrates conversion therapy, especially when practiced on young people, is neither medically, nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, told the Washington Blade in a phone interview.

Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that falsely claims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices are especially harmful for youth, as they can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.

California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have passed laws to prevent licensed providers from offering conversion therapy to minors, and at least 18 states have introduced similar legislation this year (AZ, CO, CT, FL, IL, IA, MA, MN, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, TX, VT, VA, WA). Legislators in Oklahoma introduced legislation earlier this year which would have specifically legitimized conversion therapy and immunized it from state oversight, but luckily the bill failed to pass. 

The White House’s statement tonight quotes President Obama’s address at the 2009 HRC National Dinner:

“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. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it's time to let that secret out. 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.”

Read the White House’s answer in its entirety here. For more information on reparative therapy, visit HRC's resource page on this junk science.


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