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Lambda Legal Applauds President Obama for Supporting Banning ‘Ex-gay Therapy’ for Minors

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“So-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ devastates LGBT people and their families, and we commend the president for speaking out against these dangerous and discredited practices.”
April 8, 2015

(Washington, April 8, 2015) –Today President Obama condemned efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity – sometimes referred to as “ex-gay”, “conversion” or “reparative” therapy – for minors.

In a statement released today, President Obama calls for an end to “conversion therapy,” stating in part, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director for Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:

“This is a critical step in the fight to end these cruel and discredited practices. So-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ devastates LGBT people and their families, and we commend the president for speaking out against these dangerous and discredited practices.

“In both California and New Jersey, Lambda Legal joined with regional and national organizations working with LGBT young people to advocate on behalf of the ultimately successful efforts in both states to enact legislation preventing licensed mental health providers from using therapies with minors that are demonstrably ineffective and can be deeply harmful, and we were part of the correspondingly successful efforts to defend these bans in court. We will continue to advocate on behalf of LGBT young people as other states likewise move to protect them from this preventable harm.

“These dangerous and damaging efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity have wrecked lives. Tonight the President lent the full weight of his leadership to the work our community has been doing for years to protect young people and their families.  He joins not only Lambda Legal and our sister organizations, but every leading medical and therapeutic organization, as they have unanimously and unequivocally recognized that LGBT people's identities should not be targeted for change.”

Efforts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity pose critical health risks, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide. For minors, who are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of parents who don't know or don't believe that the efforts are harmful, the risks of long-term mental and physical health consequences are particularly severe.  In addition, when these efforts “fail” many LGBT children are kicked out of their homes.

Lambda Legal amicus brief in the California cases Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown is available here.

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Thomas Warnke, Office: 213-382-7600 ext.247; Cell: 213-841-4503; email twarnke@lambdalegal.org

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