Issuing a strong condemnation of the practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” President Barack Obamahas called for an end to the treatment, according to Politico.
Although considered to be harmful by groups like the American Psychiatric Association, the “reparative” therapy is supposed to halt the desire for homosexuality or nontraditional gender identification and is usually offered by conservative religious groups, writes the news outlet.
The announcement came in the form of a statement from the president and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, posted alongside a WhiteHouse.gov petition to end such therapies. It was not accompanied by any concrete statements of policy.
The petition, which has been digitally signed nearly 121,000 times since early January, lists 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn as its inspiration. Alcorn, a transgender girl from Ohio, threw herself in front of a tractor-trailer last December, leaving behind an online suicide note in which she detailed how she had been forced to attend conversion treatment where religious therapists attempted to convert her back into a boy.
“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,” the president’s statement read. “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.”
We’re proud of the Obama administration for raising the bar and tackling this long-standing problem.