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Biden marks Pride Month with executive order combatting conversion therapy, supporting LGBTQ kids

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(WASHINGTON) — The federal government will be instructing states on ways to expand access to health care and suicide prevention resources for LGBTQ people and will be releasing school policy samples that work to better include such students, among other steps in support of the community including a campaign against conversion therapy, senior administration officials said Wednesday.

President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday directing the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education to take such measures as part of what his administration said was a broader push, during Pride Month, “to stand up to the bullies targeting” the LGBTQ community.

The White House singled out hundreds of new bills, nationwide, that would impose restrictions on LGBTQ people or issues, such as a law in Florida outlawing discussion of gender and sexuality in certain classrooms and various state bans — either proposed or already passed into law — on transgender children being able to receive certain medical treatments.

“President Biden is addressing these harmful, hateful, and discriminatory attacks head-on – not only by speaking up for America’s families, but taking action,” the White House said in a statement.

The new executive order will urge additional policy guidance, increase administrative protections and make the federal government available as a partner to states; it will also raise public awareness around what the administration said were ongoing challenges faced by LGBTQ people, like the prevalence of conversion therapy that seeks to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Children who are exposed to so-called ‘conversion therapy’ face higher rates of attempted suicide and trauma,” the White House said. “[M]any people in the United States and around the world are still subjected to this practice.”

A new HHS initiative will work to reduce youth exposure to conversion therapy by clarifying that programs receiving federal funds cannot engage in the practice, as directed by the president’s order.

Spotlighting the practice’s harms is another component of the initiative, and HHS will offer guidance to health care providers through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The order also seeks to address some of the barriers before LGBTQ children and families.

The White House said that while LGBTQ parents are “7 times more likely to adopt a child,” the foster care system makes it challenging for them to adopt children.

“President Biden is charging HHS with strengthening non-discrimination protections,” according to the White House.

Another HHS initiative will work to ensure that children receive foster care placements in environments supportive of their sexual orientation, the administration said.

The president will announce his executive order at a White House Pride Month celebration in the East Room on Wednesday afternoon. He will be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, as well as Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The White House’s focus on LGBTQ issues — specifically those affecting children — comes weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial ban on discussion of “sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms or in older grades if it is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

Critics denounced the law as an overly broad “Don’t Say Gay” ban; DeSantis and its supporters said it prevented children from being exposed to what they called inappropriate content.

ABC News reports similar legislation is working its way through legislatures or already enacted into law in Alabama and Ohio.

ABC News’ Armando Garcia contributed to this report.

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