The Joe Biden Foundation has launched a campaign that seeks to protect gender-confused children from parents who do not affirm their desire to transition to a gender that is incompatible with their biological sex.
A press release from the former vice president’s foundation Tuesday states the new initiative, dubbed “As You Are,” claims it is parental rejection that leads to the high rates of severe mental illness among LGBTQ youth:
Family rejection can lead to heartbreaking outcomes for LGBTQ youth, so we want you to share your stories about the value of acceptance—because you deserve to be safe and affirmed #AsYouAre. https://t.co/Ry4X20j9bw pic.twitter.com/I8lDXTpVXy
— Biden Foundation (@bidenfoundation) August 7, 2018
“[F]amily rejection significantly contributes to negative outcomes” for LGBTQ young people, specifically severe depression and suicidal ideation, states the Biden Foundation.
“Rejecting behavior is not limited to a parent disowning or kicking out their child,” the foundation says. “It can also include subjecting young people to ‘conversion therapy,’ blocking their access to LGBTQ friends and networks, or keeping a young person’s LGBTQ identity ‘secret.’”
Though 14 states have passed a ban on so-called “conversion therapy” that seeks to change sexual orientation, Gov. Paul LePage of Maine recently vetoed a bill that would have banned therapists in his state from working with children who are uncomfortable with same-sex attraction or their experience that their gender is incompatible with their biological sex.
The governor wrote that mental health professionals are already regulated by licensure requirements, and he rejected the notion that they require regulation beyond what is already mandated.
LePage observed that while he strongly agrees that adolescents should not be physically or mentally abused by adults if they share concerns about their sexuality with them, the bill could open up a mental health professional to a malpractice issue even over a simple conversation about sexual orientation or gender initiated by the patient himself.
The governor wrote:
This is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counseling an individual even at the individual’s own request. We should not prohibit professionals from counseling an individual even at the individual’s own request. We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it for their own personal and basic questions such as, “How do I deal with these feelings I am experiencing?”
LePage also went on to voice his concerns that such a bill might be interpreted as a “threat to religious liberty.”
“Parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs,” he asserted. “Because the standard of practice for these professionals already prohibits any practice or therapy that would amount to physical or mental abuse, what we are really trying to regulate are the private, consultative conversations between a licensed provider and a client.”
Biden’s foundation claims that immediately affirming the identity of LGBTQ young people can prevent serious mental illness among them.
“I’m so proud to announce the Biden Foundation has launched this campaign,” Biden said in a statement. “We’ll use our resources to highlight the harms of family rejection—and lift up research, best practices, and personal stories to powerfully show the significant value of family acceptance.”
As it kicks off its campaign, the Biden Foundation will be gathering personal stories from young people with sexual orientation or gender identity issues, as well as parents, educators, and other professionals, as a way to raise awareness about the dangers of mental illness when these youth are not immediately affirmed and accepted.
Members of Biden’s LGBTQ Advisory Council include Michael Guest, who, as his bio states, “was our country’s first Senate-confirmed, openly gay ambassador (to Romania, 2001–2004).”
Jason Collins, a retired Boston Celtics NBA basketball player, who announced in 2013 that he is gay, is also an advisory council member, as is Mara Keisling, founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Award-winning song artist Cyndi Lauper, who launched the True Colors Fund, is also a member of Biden’s foundation advisory council for LGBTQ issues, as is Sara Ramirez of CBS’s Madam Secretary and formerly of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
Also on the foundation’s LGBTQ Advisory Council is Phillip Picardi, who oversees the content of Teen Vogue magazine, which he transformed from a fashion and celebrity publication to one devoted to gender equality and social justice.
Advisory Council member Jacob Tobia has been the host of NBC OUT’s Queer 2.0 and “a leading voice for genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people.”
According to his bio on the foundation’s website, Tobia is “an avid Sriracha devotee and has worn high heels in the White House twice.”