FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MN Lawmakers Refuse to Protect LGBTQ Youth
May 23, 2019
St. Paul, MN -- Today, Minnesota’s legislature decided to allow the torturous practice of conversion “therapy” to continue in Minnesota. By omitting any restrictions on conversion therapy from the Health and Human Services final report, Minnesota’s lawmakers ignored the voices of thousands of conversion therapy survivors, healthcare professionals, and faith leaders; rejected the will of Minnesotans; and failed to protect LGBTQ youth from the torturous practice of conversion “therapy.”
Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota, reacted: “It is shameful that a few politicians chose to play politics with our lives. This level of disregard for LGBTQ lives is despicable, and we look forward to working with Governor Walz to find a statewide solution to protect LGBTQ youth. We will also advocate to ban this torturous practice in cities across the state of Minnesota.”
Regarding the obstruction of his Senate colleagues, Senator Scott Dibble said, “It is unconscionable that some of the very people elected to protect the most vulnerable Minnesotans chose to ignore their stories of pain and harm and the outcry from thousands of their supporters to end this archaic form of treatment. It is past time we ended this discredited, barbaric practice in Minnesota.”
Sixteen states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have already banned the discredited practice of conversion “therapy,” many with bipartisan support.
Although an amendment banning conversion “therapy” passed the Minnesota House with bipartisan support in April, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka forced his party to vote against an amendment to the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill that would have banned conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. Senator Gazelka previously sent his own child to conversion therapy with Marcus Bachmann. Some members of the GOP expressed discontent with his decision to block a conversion therapy ban, showing discord in the Republican party over treatment of LGBTQ Minnesotans.
Led by OutFront Minnesota, conversion therapy survivors, faith leaders, and health professionals advocated at the Minnesota State Capitol for months to ban the discredited practice of conversion therapy. They delivered thousands of Valentine’s Day cards to legislators and organized an LGBTQ youth summit with Congressperson Ilhan Omar and over 400 high school students from around the state. OutFront Minnesota also held a lobby day with award-winning author Garrard Conley during which LGBTQ activists delivered hundreds of pink erasers with the names of LGBTQ youth taken by suicide and murder to Senator Michelle Benson who refused to hear the bill in the Health and Human Services Committee, which she chairs.
Wil Sampson-Bernstrom, a survivor of conversion “therapy” and elder at Apple Valley Community of Christ Church, expressed: “I came to Minnesota eight years ago because I saw this state as a place where people loved, defended, and looked out for each other. I’m saddened that a few politicians have made it clear that they do not care about me or my family. Yet, I am heartened by how many thousands of Minnesotans showed up to help end this dangerous and discredited practice. My faith has kept me going through some of the darkest times of surviving conversion ‘therapy’ and it will carry me through until no other person is subjected to this torture.”
Representative Hunter Cantrell added, “I ran for office because I wanted to ensure that our government was helping Minnesotans and protecting our youth. I am severely disappointed in some of our lawmakers for choosing partisan roadblocks and arbitrary lines in the sand to obstruct the one goal we should all have for government: making people’s lives better.”
Meyer added: “The LGBTQ movement has seen many wins and losses throughout the decades, but we continue to persevere. This is a people's democracy, and we intend to hold the politicians who have refused to listen to us accountable at the ballot box.”
“Conversion therapy,” often referred to as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” includes a range of dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation, or efforts to change a person’s gender identity or expression.
These harmful practices are based on the false claim that being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ) is a mental illness that should be cured and have been denounced by every federal and state medical and mental health association, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The United Nations has even gone so far as to classify these practices as torture.
Unfortunately, many LGBTQ Minnesotans are still coerced and subjected to conversion therapy, which put them at risk for serious harms such as depression, substance abuse, and suicide.