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Beto O’Rourke’s Platform Includes Protecting LGBTQ Youth From Conversion Therapy

By John Paul Brammer

On the heels of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) unveiling her LGBTQ platform, fellow presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced Wednesday that his plan also includes protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

The plan details executive actions O’Rourke would pursue in support of the LGBTQ community. “We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love,” O’Rourke said in a statement on the proposal.

In addition to overturning the ban on transgender troops in the military and supporting the Equality Act, O’Rourke said he would task the FTC with cracking down on conversion therapy as a form of fraud, in an approach similar to that proposed by Congressman Ted Lieu’s “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act.”

Conversion therapy refers to the dangerous and discredited practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people. At The Trevor Project, the world’s largest organization dedicated to LGBTQ youth in crisis, we know all too well how rejection can negatively impact vulnerable young people. In fact, in The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the last year.

“Politicians across the country are recognizing that conversion therapy has no place in our modern health care system because there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ. In fact, the conversion therapy itself is what causes the harms,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “At The Trevor Project, we hear from youth harmed by conversion therapy every week and appreciate candidates like former Congressman O’Rourke using their voice to protect our vulnerable youth.”

Statements like O’Rourke’s and Gillibrand’s help bring national attention to the crucial issue of conversion therapy practiced by licensed professionals, which is still a threat to minors in 32 states. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have the opportunity to protect LGBTQ youth and to affirm a future where they can be exactly who they are.