The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to ban conversion therapy Friday, making it the first city in Minnesota to do so.
Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to "cure" members of the LGBTQ+ community and has been widely opposed by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for several decades, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It seems to alter the sexuality or gender identity of subjects through any number of tactics that vary from prayer to what amounts to torture.
The new ordinance will prohibit licensed mental health professionals in Minneapolis from practicing conversion therapy on anyone under 18.
Council president Lisa Bender read a statement from council member Phillipe Cunningham, who led the ordinance, and is known for being one of the first openly trans men to be elected to public office in the United States. "Conversion therapy, which is actually conversion abuse, is a blight on our country. It is tantamount to torture," the statement said. "I believe that we should continue to push for this change at a state level. But also believe that where there is opportunity for us to save lives, we must."
The ordinance was previously announced by local officials in October. City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, known for being the first Black openly transgender woman elected to public office in the United States, co-authored the ordinance, and said she hoped the step by Minneapolis would influence other cities within the state to take up the ban, leading to a statewide ban.
"It has really been a very heartwarming community effort to protect our most vulnerable residents in the City of Minneapolis," she said. "Hopefully we can end this violence, and I think our step towards banning conversion therapy in the city of Minneapolis is a step in that direction."
Troy Stevenson, Advocacy Campaign manager for The Trevor Project, presented data from The Trevor Project's 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health, to the Minneapolis City Council at a meeting on Monday which found that: 2 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth reported that someone tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, with youth who have undergone conversion therapy more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who did not. The study found that 42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the past year and 57 percent of transgender and non-binary youth who have undergone conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the last year.
"The Trevor Project applauds OutFront Minnesota, Council Member Andrea Jenkins, and all of the advocates who have dedicated themselves to ending conversion therapy in Minneapolis. We know this discredited practice is detrimental to the mental wellness of LGBTQ youth and today's victory will save lives," Stevenson said in a press release. "Minneapolis has long been a leader on LGBTQ rights and it is our great hope that their bold action on protecting youth will lead to those same protections being passes by the state legislature in 2020."
According to the council, similar bans exist in 18 states The ruling follows a recent call from The American Medical Association for a nationwide ban on LGBTQ+ conversion therapy.
- Serena Sonoma