In the News
Conversion therapy should never be attempted. A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights the fact that “same-gender sexual orientation (including identity, behavior, and attraction) and variations in gender identity and gender expression” all lie within the normal range of human diversity and affirms that these traits are not mental disorders. Nevertheless, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youths are at risk for serious health problems—including depression, suicide, substance abuse, and even violence—related to psychological distress, negative social attitudes, and discrimination. Conversion therapy is an attempt to alter sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, but the report presents overwhelming evidence that it doesn't work and can be extremely harmful; SAMHSA, therefore, asserts that the approach should not be employed or encouraged by providers. Appropriate support for LGBTQ youths in pediatric settings includes creating a tolerant environment for discussing issues related to sexual preference and gender identity, providing accurate information, and avoiding sexual and gender stereotypes. The full report is available at http://1.usa.gov/1GIOL2d.