By Ella Ceron | Bloomberg
President Joe Biden will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to establish guidance blocking federal funding for organizations that subject LGBTQ youth to harmful and discredited practices known as conversion therapy.
In an effort to counter a series of state-level anti-LGBTQ legislation and policies, Biden on Wednesday will sign an executive order as a show of support for LGBTQ people and children in particular, senior administration officials said. The president and first lady Jill Biden also will host a reception at the White House celebrating Pride Month. Under the order, HHS will “explore guidance” that bars programs and organizations that receive federal funding from subjecting people to conversion therapy and provide support to those who have been subjected to such practices. The department will also seek to educate the broader public on the practice, which has been roundly discredited by medical professionals.
The order also will include a commitment to expand mental-health resources that are inclusive ofLGBTQ youth and ask the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide more detailed guidance on providing LGBTQ-affirming mental-health support.
Experts classify conversion therapy as any practice meant 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’s School of Law estimated that 57,000 teens in the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 17 will be targeted by conversion therapy practices before they turn 18.
The American Psychological Association says 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 on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.”
LGBTQ youth who have been subjected to or threatened with conversion therapy practices were more than twice as likely to report attempting suicide within the past year as those who did not, a survey from the mental health advocacy group The Trevor Project found. More than one in five transgender youth, and more than one in 10 cisgender youth said they had been subjected to or threatened with such practices.
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