By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday aimed at curbing discrimination against transgender youth and drying up federal funding for the controversial practice of ‘conversion therapy.'
Biden's executive order asks the federal health and education departments to expand access to gender-affirming medical treatments and find new ways to counter a flurry of bills passed by conservative lawmakers this year that ban these treatments for transgender youth.
The order asks federal agencies to ensure that federally funded programs do not offer conversion therapy, and the Federal Trade Commission to consider policing such practices that seek to change a patient's sexual orientation or gender identity as deceptive businesses.
Biden will sign the new policies as he marks Pride Month and hosts a LGBT reception at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
The measures also include new steps to encourage the placement of LGBT children in foster homes that support their sexual orientation and also create a new working group on LGBT homelessness. They come after the Department of Justice has challenged some of those conservative state laws as unconstitutional.
The White House said more than 300 “anti-LGBTQI+” laws were introduced in state legislatures over the past year, a reference to bills barring classroom discussion of gender identity, blocking access to healthcare to help young people transition, and restricting participation in sports.
The White House's steps fall short of an outright federal ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public spaces and federal programs. That would require congressional approval for the Equality Act.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, William Maclean)