Big News: President Obama Calls For An End To Conversion Therapy For LGBT Youth

President Obama has shown his compassionate, loving, and intellectual side yet again by publicly calling for the end of reparative (or conversion) therapy for LGBT youth after the heartbreaking story of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgendered youth who killed herself due to parental and social rejection.

A petition was started on the White House’s We the People petition page, and garnered the support necessary to invoke an official response from the White House. The petition has more than 120,000 signatures and has been up since January 3. The post finishes with an impassioned plea, saying “We respectfully seek your help to ban the practice known as ‘conversion therapy’ and name the bill in honor of Leelah Alcorn.”

The response, written by Valerie Jarrett, the senior advisor to President Obama and the one who helped him to evolve on the issue of same-sex marriage, was very moving, and began with a personal quote from the President:

“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.”

Jarrett wrote that the Administration as a whole, including the President, supports a nationwide ban on the practice for youth who “who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions,” and such are calling on Congress to end it:

“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.”

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.

As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Jarrett’s response also referenced Chris Christie’s ban of conversion therapy, highlighting that the New Jersey courts have ruled it to be fraudulent and that it violates the state’s consumer protection laws.

In an interview, Jarrett said the President was moved by the story of Alcorn, yet his feelings on the issue went further than just one story, saying, “It was tragic, but I will tell you, unfortunately, she has a lot of company. It’s not the story of one young person. It is the story of countless young people who have been subjected to this.”

President Obama has made us all proud by standing up for LGBT youth all across the country who are forced into this barbaric practice by parents or guardians who cannot see them for who the really are. I hope states across the nation and Congress takes up action to finally end tis practice once and for all. Bravo, Mr. President. Leelah Alcorn did not die in vain.

Image via Conectica