The US federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a report demanding the end to the practice of "conversion therapy". It is often forced upon lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth by anxious parents of family members but can "reinforce harmful gender stereotypes" according to the survey.
Although some, and often religious groups, claim that they can "cure" young people of a sexual preference in partners or transgender preferences, believing that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be displaced through therapy, "none of the existing research" supports that theory, according the report from SAMHSA called Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Confirming LGBT Youth.
The report was backed by senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett who has backed efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors with the support of the US government. The White House criticised the practice following the death of transgender youth Leelah Alcorn who committed suicide last December after being forced to attend conversion therapy by her parents.
The report said: "Directing the child or adolescent to conform to any particular gender expression or identity, or directing parents and guardians to place pressure on the child or adolescent to conform to specific gender expressions and/or identities, is inappropriate."
Jarrett presented the findings of the report, the first federal report on such matters, to reporters and said that although it was not the US government's job to tell parents how to raise their children it was its responsibility to provide parents with the scientific evidence necessary in order for them to make the best possible decisions for their children. "We do strongly believe that young people should be valued for who they are, no matter what they look like, where they're from, the gender with which they identify or who they love," she said.
In May, Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives and former California State Senator Ted Lieu introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, aiming to classify conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The bill would seek to ban all advertising that claims the practice can successfully change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Four states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws banning the practice for minors, and 21 other states have introduced similar legislation, according to the report.