By Ella Céron | Bloomberg
President Joe Biden will ask the Department of Health and Human Services to establish guidelines blocking federal funding for organizations that subject LGBTQ youth to harmful and discredited practices known as conversion therapy.
In an effort to counter a slew of state-level anti-LGBTQ laws and policies, Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday in a show of support for LGBTQ people and children in particular, senior administration officials said. . President and First Lady Jill Biden will also host a reception at the White House to celebrate Pride Month. Under the order, HHS will “explore guidance” that prohibits programs and organizations that receive federal funding from subjecting people to conversion therapy and will provide support to those who have been subjected to such practices. The department will also seek to educate the general public about the practice, which has been outright discredited by medical professionals.
The order will also include a commitment to expand mental health resources that include LGBTQ youth and will ask the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide more detailed guidance on providing mental health support affirming LGBTQ people.
Experts classify conversion therapy as any practice intended to forcefully change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. At least 20 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have banned the use of such practices on children, according to the Human Rights Campaign. A June 2019 report from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law estimated that 57,000 American adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 will be targeted by conversion therapy practices before they turn 18. .
The American Psychological Association says that children, as well as their families, guardians and advocates, should not engage in such practices. Instead, they should “seek psychotherapy, social support, and educational services that provide accurate information about sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”
According to a survey by mental health advocacy group The Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth who were subjected to or threatened by conversion therapy practices were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide in the past. past year than those who have not. More than one in five transgender youth and more than one in 10 cisgender youth said they had experienced or been threatened by such practices.
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