A federal agency released a report today, Thursday, Oct. 15, calling for efforts to curb the use of the practice known as reparative therapy for LGBT youth.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s report denounces the use of the discredited practice, which supporters allege can change sexual orientation or gender identity.
It also provides resources and best-case practices for families and friends of LGBT youth to discuss sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression with youth.
“When dealing with a sensitive topic such as gender identity or sexual orientation in young people, it is essential that families, educators, caregivers, and providers seek the best available information and advice,” said Kana Enomoto, the agency’s acting administrator. “SAMHSA’s report provides this information, as well as resources young people, families and others can use to promote healthy development for all youth.”
Leaders of national groups, such as Human Rights Campaign and National Center for Lesbian Rights, which have worked with state legislatures and partner groups to ban such practices, praised the report’s findings.
“Conversion therapy is child abuse, and the Obama Administration has joined our call to ban its practice once and for all,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This is dangerous junk science that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is by changing the very nature of who they are. Today’s new health report shows the extensive damage that so-called conversion therapy can cause and why it’s so urgent that we end it in all fifty states.”
Samantha Ames, staff attorney and program coordinator of the #BornPerfect campaign for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, credited the entire Obama administration for advocating for the end of reparative therapy.
“We could not be more grateful to SAMHSA, HHS, and the entire Obama Administration for producing such an in-depth and lifesaving report, and to the APA for inviting us to the table with such high caliber experts to observe the process,” she said in a statement.
President Obama denounced the practice earlier this year in response to a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling for a ban on the process following the suicide of a young transwoman, Leelah Alcorn, last December.
Numerous professional organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association, oppose the practice. Other organizations, ranging from the World Health Organization to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have also denounced it.
But the practice still has some supporters, including a vocal group of social conservatives lead by Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams, who pushed for a plank acknowledging the practice in the Texas Republican Party platform during the party’s 2014 convention.
Currently California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy. Bills have been introduced in 18 states that would ban the process. A bill was introduced in the last legislative session by state Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, but failed to get a committee hearing.