*President Obama took a forceful stand Wednesday against gay conversion therapy, after a White House petition followed the suicide of 17-year-old transgender teen Leelah Alcorn in December.
The controversial therapy treats homosexuality as a mental issue that can be reversed by specialty therapy.
Responding to a petition on the White House website calling for a ban on conversion therapy, Obama writes that “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.”
Obama adds: “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.”
The White House petition, which has more than 120,000 signatures, calls for enactment of “Leelah’s Law to Ban All LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy.”
Alcorn wrote a lengthy Tumblr post—now removed—before her suicide revealing that her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy.
“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” Obama’s senior aide Valerie Jarrett said.
Jarrett continued that the administration will dedicate itself to outlawing the process.
“As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors,” she said.
This is President Obama’s third major move as president regarding the LGBT community. He sparked the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy during his first term. Later on, in an interview with Robin Roberts, the president came out in support of same-sex marriage.