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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 23, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 43
White House says ban conversion therapy
Federal agency calls practice 'dangerous'
Section One
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White House says ban conversion therapy
Federal agency calls practice 'dangerous'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The White House called for a ban on so-called 'conversion therapy' after a federal health agency said the practice was dangerous for minors.

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released its report on conversion therapy October 15. The same day, senior White House staffer Valerie Jarrett endorsed the findings in a conference call with reporters.

'We believe that conversion therapy for young people is not in their best interests, and the facts and evidence support that. We would support, and have supported, making it illegal for young people,' she said.

'We do strongly believe that young people should be valued for what they are, no matter what they look like, where they're from, the gender with which they identify, or who they love,' Jarrett added.

'It's not our job to tell parents how to raise children, but it is our responsibility to show parents the best scientific evidence in order for them to make the best possible decisions.'

Jarrett is a close friend and political associate of President Obama, and her endorsement of the study should be interpreted as a reflection of the president's views.

SAMHSA found that same-sex attraction is 'a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and [does] not constitute a mental disorder.'

Conversion therapies 'are coercive, can be harmful and should not be part of behavioral health treatment.'

'Directing the child or adolescent to conform to any particular gender expression or identity, or directing parents and guardians to place pressure on the child or adolescent to conform to specific gender expression and or identity, is inappropriate and reinforces harmful gender stereotypes,' the study concluded.

In May, Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would classify conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The bill would also ban all advertising that claims the practice can successfully change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Republican-controlled Congress is not likely to pass the measure, however.

Four states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws banning conversion therapy for minors, and 21 other states have introduced similar legislation, according to the SAMHSA report.

A Washington bill, introduced by State Sen. Marko Liias, passed the state House in April but was blocked by Republicans in the Senate. Republicans said they were fine with banning electroshock and ice bath therapy but believed that 'talk therapy' was constitutionally protected free speech.

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White House says ban conversion therapy
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