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Biden issues executive order on LGBT rights for adults and youth


Nicholas Kamm | AFP

John Burger - published on 06/16/22

President seeks to counter effects of various state laws designed to make it more difficult for minors to receive irreversible medical treatment and surgery to transition to another gender.

President Biden on Wednesday issued a sweeping executive order with measures designed to protect same-sex-attracted and transgender American adults and youth from what the White House sees as discriminatory legislation and practices.

Much of the executive order seems to be meant to counter various recent state laws enacted to protect young people from LGBT ideology as promoted in public schools that help youngsters get medical treatments to transition to the opposite sex.

“Today, unrelenting political and legislative attacks at the State level — on LGBTQI+ children and families in particular — threaten the civil rights gains of the last half century and put LGBTQI+ people at risk,” Biden said in the executive order, which was signed at a White House ceremony celebrating “Pride Month.” 

“My message to all the young people: just be you,” Biden told the gathering, which included LGBT activists, Cabinet officials and members of Congress. “You are loved. You are heard. You are understood. You do belong. All of us on this stage have your back.”

Biden is directing his Department of Health and Human Services to “protect” young people from “harmful” state laws that would keep them from getting appropriate medical care for their “gender dysphoria.” 

Florida might have the highest profile in that debate, having passed a bill that some refer to as “Don’t Say Gay.” The Parental Rights in Education law prohibits classroom discussion of sexual orientation or transgenderism for children in the third grade or younger.

Meanwhile, Alabama legislators in April voted to make it a felony for doctors to provide hormone treatment, puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery to persons under the age of 19. The bill also would require school officials to inform a parent or legal guardian when a “minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”

This week, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health said puberty-blocking hormones could be started at age 14, two years earlier than the group’s previous advice, and some surgeries done at age 15 or 17, a year or so earlier than previous guidance, the Associated Press reported

Fighting conversion therapy, even abroad

Biden’s executive order is also directing various cabinet departments to undertake initiatives to help protect vulnerable youth from so-called conversion therapy, which is meant to help same-sex-attracted youth embrace heterosexuality or youth who feel they have a different “gender identity” better acclimate to the sex they really are. Even the Department of State and other international-focused agencies are asked to help stop “conversion therapy” abroad. 

Biden called the practice “inhumane” and dangerous. The homosexual advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign says on its website:

“‘Reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy is a dangerous practice that targets LGBTQ youth and seeks to change their sexual or gender identities. 

“So-called ‘conversion therapy,’ sometimes known as ‘reparative therapy,’ is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy. Minors are especially vulnerable, and conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.”

Reacting to the Biden executive order, Ryan T. Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, called plans to protect transgender youths’ healthcare “Orwellian.”

“This would prevent efforts to help girls identify as girls,” Anderson tweeted. “That’s what they’re calling ‘conversion therapy.'”

In 2015, White House officials said that President Barack Obama would not explicitly call for a federal law banning therapists from using such therapies on their patients, “but he is open to conversations with lawmakers in both parties. Instead, he will throw his support behind the efforts to ban the practice at the state level.”

Biden’s executive order also directs the Secretary of HHS to establish an initiative to address the “health disparities facing LGBTQI+ youth and adults, take steps to prevent LGBTQI+ suicide, and address the barriers and exclusionary policies that LGBTQI+ individuals and families face in accessing quality, affordable, comprehensive health care, including mental health care, reproductive health care, and HIV prevention and treatment.” As part of that initiative, the Secretary of HHS is to, among other things, “promote expanded access to comprehensive healthcare for LGBTQI+ individuals, including by working with States on expanding access to gender-affirming care.”

The order also orders the Education Department to release a sample school policy that is inclusive of LGBT students.

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