Minneapolis City Council members Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham introduced a new ordinance to ban conversion therapy, the practice that aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, in the city.
The ordinance would prohibit "any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity ..." and would apply to minors being treated by a therapist, doctor, or mental health provider but would exclude counseling being done by clergy.
"It is happening in Minneapolis, and I was quite surprised, myself," Jenkin said. “It’s really a destructive practice that shames young people."
Jenkins said she’s behind the ordinance because it brings equality for all.
"To make sure we're creating the most fair and equitable and fair city that we can," Jenkins said.
Conversion Camp Experience
"I was in a very dark spot in my life, I just want to fix myself,” said Junior Avalos, who worked part-time to raise money at age 16 to attend a conversion therapy program.
Avalos recalled sitting at the computer and typing in "cures for homosexuality," which led him to a program in Texas.
"It was a painful experience about trying to erase a part of me,” Avalos said. “Being berated and physically and verbally abused to change."
Now, Avalos is a Campus and Organizing Coordinator at Outfront Minnesota, an LGBTQ advocacy group, in Minneapolis.
Avalos said he works to make sure no child is subjected to conversion therapy so they can be who they are as a person.
"No kids should ever have to go through those feelings ... that is something that isn't necessary," Avalos said.
Other States and Cities Take Action
The Minnesota legislature took up a similar bill during the last session, but it failed to advance.
Eighteen states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have passed measures against LGBTQ youth conversion therapy.
New York City recently repealed a conversion therapy ban that included adults, after it came under fire from a group saying it infringed on first amendment rights between a patient and therapist.
Next Steps: Minneapolis Ordinance
A public meeting on the ordinance is slated for Nov. 18th at Minneapolis City Hall, with a possible vote coming to the full council later in the month.
- Eric Chaloux