White House Calls for End of 'Conversion' Therapy on LGBT Youth

PHOTO: A protester holds an American flag and rainbow flag in front of the Miami-Dade Courthouse to show his support of the LGBTQ couples, July 2, 2014, in Miami.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A protester holds an American flag and rainbow flag in front of the Miami-Dade Courthouse to show his support of the LGBTQ couples, July 2, 2014, in Miami.

The White House tonight is calling for an end to the use on LGBT youth of “conversion” therapy, a technique used by some mental health providers to try to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“This administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors,” Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama, wrote in a post on the White House website tonight.

“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 wrote.

The post came in response to a petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling for a ban on “conversion therapy” after the suicide of a 17-year-old transgender youth named Leelah Alcorn. Alcorn wrote a suicide note and posted it to Tumblr before walking in front of a semi-truck, ending her life.

“Leelah explained how her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school and isolated her in an attempt to change her identity,” the petition read.

“Often this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions,” Jarrett wrote in a post alongside the petition Wednesday night. “We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth.”

More than 120,000 people have signed onto the petition.