President Obama Calls for End to Conversion "Therapy"

Apr 09, 2015
In a statement released last night (Apr. 8), Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, wrote that, "As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors."
Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, is a practice in which efforts are made to change a lesbian or gay individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.

Last year, Dr. David Kaplan, ACA’s Chief Professional Officer, testified before the Washington, D.C. Committee on Health in support of a bill banning conversion therapy for minors. “The American Counseling Association has adopted an unequivocal policy against reparative therapy. Reparative therapy is not congruent with the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics—the ethical code for the profession of counseling—as the effects of efforts to change sexual orientation have been found to cause damage to individuals who have been exposed to it," Dr. Kaplan said. Additionally, the American Psychological Association has found the practice to be “unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.”

It should also be noted that these practices are not actually therapies at all. In his testimony, Dr. Kaplan also said the following: “[The] word 'therapy' should really not be used when talking about sexual orientation change efforts. 'Therapy' is a clinical word and refers to a mental health intervention. 'Reparative therapy' is not a mental health intervention since it does not address the diagnosis of a mental disorder. [The] the mental health field has concluded that same-sex attraction is not a deficit and therefore homosexuality is not categorized as a psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).”

According to The New York Times, the President won't call for a federal ban on conversion therapy, but will instead support efforts to ban the practice at the state level. At present, California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. have outlawed the use of conversion therapy for minors. The White House statement was released in response to a petition that was started on behalf of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide after being forced to undergo conversion therapy. The petition has received more than 120,000 signatures.

The American Counseling Association commends the White House for recognizing that conversion therapy is harmful and lending its support. ACA stands ready to assist any parties that wish to ensure all Americans are protected from these dangerous and unethical mental health practices.

Read the full statement from the White House here.

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