(Washington, DC, April 8, 2015)—Today, the White House released its statement in response to a petition calling for federal action to end conversion therapy, a set of dangerous and discredited practices that purport to be able to change sexual orientation or gender identity. The petition was prompted by the death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager from Kings Mills, Ohio, who took her own life in December 2014 after facing years of rejection and enduring conversion therapy.

In a statement presented by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama sent a powerful message to LGBTQ youth across the country: “Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us—on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”

“Jarrett said the Obama Administration is calling on the rest of the country to follow the lead of California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia by taking steps to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. The statement includes strong support for legislation the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has been instrumental in introducing across the country: “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban licensed professionals from providing conversion therapy for minors.”

Said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq: “There are few things more powerful to our children’s self-worth than having the President of the United States say you matter. These powerful statements from President Obama and Valerie Jarrett not only affirm the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters, but the lives of all LGBTQ people. Today, our President made clear that we can and must do better. Every LGBTQ child deserves to live with full dignity, free from shame, embraced for who they are. Today brings us one step closer to that moment.”

NCLR started its Youth Project more than two decades ago to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBTQ youth at home, in school, and in public systems of care through litigation, policy advocacy, and systemic reform. The project prioritizes full integration and affirmation of transgender youth, fair and equal treatment of LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care, and ending conversion therapy through NCLR’s #BornPerfect™ campaign.

NCLR has been at the forefront of efforts to protect youth and their families from conversion therapy for more than two decades and, alongside the Human Rights Campaign and state equality groups, has helped pass legislation in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. NCLR launched its #BornPerfect™ campaign last year to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Learn more about the #BornPerfect™ campaign.