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White House Calls for Ban on LGBT ‘Conversion Therapies’

FILE- LGBT activists hold up a sign at the 44th annual San Francisco Gay Pride parade Sunday, June 29, 2014, in San Francisco, California.

The White House is calling for a ban on so-called conversion therapies - psychiatric practices aimed at changing a person's gender identity or sexual orientation.

In a statement posted Wednesday on the White House website, senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett said conversion therapy can have "potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender, as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual" youth.

"The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate, and can cause substantial harm," the statement says.

It is posted along with a petition calling for congressional legislation to ban conversion therapies. The bill is to be enacted in memory of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, a transgender youth who committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a tractor-trailer last December.

In an online suicide note, Leelah said her parents had pulled her out of school and put her into conversion therapy to change her back into being a boy.

The White House statement concludes, "This administration believes 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."