President Joe Biden issued an executive order on June 15 banning conversion therapy and offering other LBGTQIA+ protections as part of White House efforts to advance equality during Pride Month.
“My order will use the full force of the federal government to end inhumane practices of conversion therapy,” President Biden said in a speech before signing the order. “This is the first time the federal government is making a coordinated effort against this dangerous and discredited practice.”
Conversion therapy is any emotional or physical therapy used to “cure” or “repair” a person’s attraction to the same sex, or their gender identity and expression. Providers claim these therapies can make someone heterosexual or “straight.” But there’s no evidence to support this.
Medical and mental health experts have rejected conversion therapy practices as dangerous and discriminatory for decades.
The executive order also addresses:
- The LGBTQIA+ youth mental health crisis, in part by expanding suicide prevention resources for that at-risk population.
- Discrimination within the foster care system against LGBTQIA+ children and parents.
- Discrimination, poverty and isolation challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ seniors.
- Efforts to strengthen federal data collection in this population to counter homelessness, housing insecurity and barriers to health care access.
Enforcement of executive order will rely on legal experts, including the Justice Department.
President Biden’s order comes at a time when multiple states are promoting or passing anti-LGBTQIA+ laws.
“I don’t have to tell you about the ultra-MAGA agenda attacking our freedoms. There are more than 300 discriminatory bills introduced in states across this country,” President Biden said. “In Texas, they are knocking on front doors to investigate parents who are raising transgender children, and in Florida they are going after Mickey Mouse for God’s sake.”
First Lady Jill Biden, PhD, said the order will not solve all problems. “Prejudice and discrimination still lurk. We will not let the progress we fought for slip away. Pride is a celebration of the courage it takes to stand up for what’s right.”
The American Psychiatric Association applauded President Biden’s action. This executive order will “protect the mental health of LGBTQ+ people, particularly children. APA has long condemned the practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and we welcome the federal government’s efforts to raise public awareness about its harms, alongside other practices that will help to end it.”
The goal of the order is to “improve the health, wellbeing, and safety of countless families across the country,” senior White House administration officials said in a June 15 media call. “And they will send a powerful signal from the president of the United States to LGBTQIA+ kids across the country – who may be feeling scared and hopeless – that their president has their back.”
Biden also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act “to enshrine the long overdue civil rights to protect all Americans.”
The event was held in the East Room of the White House at a Pride event attended by Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, the first lady, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and hundreds of LGBTQIA+ leaders.