An executive order signed Friday by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper bans North Carolina from funding therapies that attempt to alter the sexual orientation or gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

Such therapies go by names such as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” “sexual orientation change efforts” or “ex-gay therapy.”

North Carolina is now the first Southern state to issue such a ban.

“Conversion therapy has been shown to pose serious health risks, and we should be protecting all of our children, including those who identify as LGBTQ, instead of subjecting them to a dangerous practice,” Cooper said in a tweet after he had signed the order.

LGBT activists cheered the move.

“The executive action, signed by Governor Cooper, restricting the use of public funds to support the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ is an important step forward in North Carolina, and we are grateful to the Protect Our Youth NC Coalition – led by Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality – for pursuing this important campaign to protect LGBTQ youth,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate.

“No child should be told that they must change their sexual orientation or gender identity; we're grateful that Gov. Cooper agrees,” Equality North Carolina Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson said in a statement. “We are committed to ending this debunked practice and will work for statewide protections.”

A poll released in February shows a large majority (80%) of North Carolinians support laws that prohibit such therapies on minors. Surprisingly, fewer Democrats (75%) are in favor than Republicans (87%).