Minnesota is moving toward banning conversion therapy for youth and certain adults.
The state’s House of Representatives Monday approved House File 16, which would bar licensed therapists from subjecting people under 18 and vulnerable adults to the practice, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Minnesota law defines vulnerable adults as those who have a physical, emotional, or mental disorder that makes it difficult to care for themselves and prevent mistreatment.
A companion bill awaits action in the Senate but is likely to pass, as it, like the House, has a Democratic majority, MPR notes. Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has said he will sign the measure into law.
“It’s been denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health organization,” bill author Rep. Athena Hollins said of conversion therapy, according to MPR. “It preys on the fears of parents and does irreparable harm to children.”
Practitioners who violate the law would be subject to disciplinary action by licensing boards. Violation would be considered unprofessional conduct. Some Republicans have expressed concern that the ban would interfere with conversations between faith leaders and young people, but it addresses only licensed counselors.
Walz issued an executive order in 2021 barring state agencies or private insurers from paying for conversion therapy for minors or vulnerable adults. He took action after bills to ban the practice stalled in the legislature.
Utah, which has used licensing rules to protect youth from conversion therapy since 2020, is also close to banning the practice through legislation. Both the House and Senate have passed the measure, and Gov. Spencer Cox is expected to sign it.
LGBTQ+ groups praised Minnesota’s move. “Amid a record-breaking number of statewide anti-LGBTQ bills across the country, this legislation is a beacon of hope to LGBTQ young Minnesotans and those who love and support them," Troy Stevenson, director of state advocacy campaigns for the Trevor Project, said in a press release. "It is inspiring to see Minnesota lawmakers come together and work swiftly to advance these protections for LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practices of so-called 'conversion therapy’ — which have been consistently associated with poor mental health outcomes and increased suicide risk. We ask the legislators to continue supporting this bill and look forward to seeing Minnesota join the growing chorus of states that have outlawed these harmful practices in the U.S."
“Minnesota is ready to ban conversion ‘therapy,’ and today we are one step closer to realizing that goal,” added Kat Rohn, executive director of OutFront Minnesota. “I’d like to thank Rep. Athena Hollins and our partners, testifiers, and community members who have helped to bring us to this moment. This legislation will ensure that Minnesotans are protected from this harmful and discredited practice — and it sends a strong message to LGBTQ+ Minnesotans that we are perfect just as we are.”
Minnesota and Utah would be the 20th and 21st states with laws limiting conversion therapy. Many cities and counties have restricted the practice as well.