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US federal report calls for ban on “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth

Advocates of conversion therapy operate under the harmful allegation that sexual orientation is a choice and that gay people have the ability to change their orientation, typically with the aide of religious intervention. This form of “therapy” originates from the once widely believed, but now fully discredited, belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured. This damaging claim, however, is still being echoed despite statements made by mainstream medical and mental health associations, such as the American Medical Association as well as the American Psychological Association. Both organizations have cited that conversion therapy is capable of causing significant physical and psychological trauma to patients.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin took his criticism of conversion therapy even further, stating that “Conversion therapy is child abuse… It 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.”

I wholeheartedly agree–conversion therapy is a clear violation to human rights and the dignity of some of the LGBTQ community’s youngest and most vulnerable members.

And yet another crucial step in the eradication of the dangerous procedure was made today.

A report calling for the ban of conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, and transgender youth–while highlighting alternative ways to  discuss sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression with young people–has been released by the federal Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration, otherwise known as “SAMHSA.” The report also urges for discrimination of LGBTQ individuals to be reduced and for there to be an increase in resources that convey clear information and better training for behavioral health providers. SAMSHSA argues that these measures, along with the implementation of legislative or legal action, will eventually lead to the elimination of conversion therapy for minors. 

The report was created following the White House’s criticisms of the procedure in April sparked by an online petition addressing the horrific treatment of Leelah Alcorn, a seventeen-year-old trans youth who took her own life after being admitted into conversion therapy by her parents. Following that, in May Congressman  Ted W. Lieu (D-CA) introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Act which was the first federal legislation to prohibit the practice of providing conversion therapy to individuals in exchange for monetary compensation or even advertising similar services claiming that sexual orientation or gender identity can be subject to change via so-called therapeutic methods. A huge milestone in LGBTQ rights in the United States.

“It’s not our job to tell parents how to raise their children. But it is our responsibility to provide parents with the scientific evidence necessary in order for them to make the best possible decisions when raising their children,” Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was quoted as saying in a recent article published by The Huffington Post. “We do strongly believe that young people should be valued for who they are, no matter what they look like, where they’re from, the gender with which they identify or who they love.”

Four states, along with the District of Columbia, have already passed laws banning the practice for minors, and 21 other states have introduced similar legislation. Let’s just hope that this cruel form of abuse, masquerading as therapy, will receive the final nail in its coffin soon.











About Cindy Pereira

Cindy Pereira is a recent graduate of the Professional Writing program formerly offered at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada. When she isn't dishing out the news, she can be found scrawling poetry, watching films, and drinking copious amounts of tea.