Obama Gets Behind Banning LGBT 'Conversion' Therapy

By Michael Nam

In the same week the executive order for protecting federal employees and contractors from discrimination went into effect, the Obama Administration continues to make progress on LGBT issues with an announcement taking on the harmful practice of ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy.

“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,” wrote Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to the president, in response to the White House petition calling for the ban. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

LGBT organizers and supporters applauded the stance, an especially timely one in light of the backlash against Indiana’s debacle over its discriminatory “religious liberty” bill. Despite wide support for protecting the LGBT community, especially among millennials, a few refuse to accept the scientific reality.

“Numerous examples exist of people who have successfully modified their sexual behavior, identity, and arousal or fantasies,” according to the NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality) website, a pro-conversion therapy organization.

“The so-called ‘conversion therapy’ has devastating consequences on LGBTQ people leading in some cases to suicide,” wrote Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director, in a statement. “This unsound practice is not based on any actual science and is instead denounced by medical and mental health professionals across the country including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and many other bodies of licensed practitioners.”

The American Psychiatric Association states:

There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation, nor is it included in the APA’s Task Force Report, Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. More importantly, altering sexual orientation is not an appropriate goal of psychiatric treatment.

The White House petition received its name from Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager who took her own life after undergoing the questionable treatment. “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human right,” she wrote in her final words. “Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something.”

Evidence of the harmful effects of conversion therapy convinced Gov. Chris Christie to ban the practice in New Jersey. The only other places to restrict conversion therapy from being used on minors are California and the District of Columbia. Because federal action would require Congress to step in, the administration has called on more states to enact legislative restrictions.

The White House also announced that, in keeping with Obama’s executive order to strengthen anti-discrimination rules for federal employees, the White House now accommodates gender non-conforming staff and guests by offering a gender-neutral restroom in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Massachusetts, Florida and Texas are currently looking at legislation that could prevent transgender accommodation in public restroom facilities. While a seemingly small token of symbolism, this signifies a significant leap forward for the Obama administration.

Latest News

We, As Ourselves initiative

Tarana Burke, Founder of #MeToo Movement, Starts New Initiative for Black Survivors

When activist Tarana Burke coined the #MeToo movement, she knew it would start a culture-shifting conversation about sexual violence. But three years after that movement began, she believes that change hasn’t been as far-reaching as she’d hoped, especially for Black women who’ve faced some aspect of sexual abuse or violence. …

Thasunda Brown Duckett

Thasunda Brown Duckett Named CEO of TIAA; Second Black Woman Recently Named to Lead Fortune 500 Company

TIAA — Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America — has announced that Thasunda Brown Duckett will become the company’s new CEO, succeeding Roger W. Ferguson Jr. who announced in November 2020 his plans to retire. With her appointment, Duckett will join newly named Walgreen’s CEO Rosalind Brewer as one…

Black News Channel BNC

Cable News Expands to Include More Black Voices with Black News Channel

As the world of cable TV news becomes increasingly fragmented, BNC (Black News Channel) is promising to deliver an alternative news source that looks at breaking news stories through the eyes of Black Americans when it relaunches in March 2021. In a Wall Street Journal exclusive, reporter Lillian Rizzo writes…