For LGBTQIA+ youth, conversion therapy intends to fundamentally change their identity.
“We must move past the idea that queer people, especially our children, can choose their sexuality or gender identity and let them show up as their full, glorious, authentic selves,” said Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL-St. Paul).
She said conversion therapy is a discredited practice opposed by every mainstream medical and mental health organization.
“How many of you second guess holding your spouse’s hand in public? How many get advice from strangers on which public restroom to use?” asked Rep. Brion Curran (DFL-Vadnais Heights). “This is the reality of being queer in America and it comes from the notion that people can be abused into conformity.”
Rep. Larry Kraft (DFL-St. Louis Park) said conversion therapy has been shown to cause serious and dangerous harm to those who undergo it, including depression, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, alienation and increased suicidal behaviors.
Unlike their cisgender, heterosexual peers, many queer kids undergo forms of talk therapy, as well as more extreme practices like electroshock or aversion therapy intending to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
That’s not all the bill would address.
Similar to Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order prohibiting insurance companies and health care plans from paying for conversion therapy, the bill would bar medical assistance from covering it.
False or fraudulent misrepresentations of conversion therapy would be forbidden, such as guarantees of changing someone’s identity or portraying homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder or illness.
If it does not seek to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, mental health professionals or practitioners could continue to provide counseling to people undergoing gender transition or any counseling that relates to identity exploration and development.
Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (R-North Branch) offered the only amendment that was adopted. It would limit the language of the bill and its implications on conversion therapy to a therapist-client relationship.