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President Obama takes a public stand against LGBTI conversion therapy

President Obama takes a public stand against LGBTI conversion therapy

US President Barack Obama said Wednesday (8 April) that he supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for LGBTI minors.

Obama issued a statement in response to a ‘We the People’ petition to enact Leelah’s Law, legislation named after trans teen Leelah Alcorn who killed herself last year after her parents refused to support her transition to female.

Alcorn had posted a suicide note on Tumblr in which she explained that her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity.

Obama said in a statement: ‘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.’

Conversion therapy generally refers to any practices by mental health providers that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This practice is often used on minors who do not have the legal authority to make medical and mental health decisions for themselves.

Some states, including California and New Jersey, have banned the practice for minors.

LGBTI groups were quick to praise Obama for taking a public stand.

‘We are thrilled that President Obama will call for an end to the use of conversion therapy on minors,’said Dr. Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Student Alliance.

‘It is a harmful and discredited practice that uses rejection, shame and psychological abuse aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.’

National Center for Lesbian Executive Director Kate Kendell said: ‘There are few things more powerful to our children’s self-worth than having the President of the United States say you matter.

‘Today, our President made clear that we can and must do better. Every LGBT child deserves to live with full dignity, free from shame, embraced for who they are. Today brings us one step closer to that moment.’