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Minnesota Governor Signs Order Restricting Conversion Therapy

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz
Courtesy Minnesota Governor's Office

Gov. Tim Walz's order will prevent state agencies and private insurers from paying for such therapy for minors and vulnerable adults.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Thursday signed an executive order barring state agencies or private insurers from paying for conversion therapy for minors or vulnerable adults.

"Our kids deserve to grow up in a state that values them for who they are -- not one that tries to change them," Walz, a Democrat, said in a press release. "This executive order aims to protect young and vulnerable Minnesotans from the cruel and discredited practice of conversion therapy and affirms that the LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of One Minnesota. This is not the end of our work to see this practice become a thing of the past. We will continue to fight for love over hate every single day."

Conversion therapy, which attempts to turn LGBTQ+ people straight or cisgender, has been condemned by every major health organization in the nation. It is not only ineffective but harmful, associated with an increased risk of suicide and other negative consequences, according to activists and health experts.

Under the order, which takes effect in 15 days, the state will ask insurance companies and health maintenance organizations to attest that they do not cover conversion therapy for the affected populations, and Minnesota officials pursue actions against any that do. State-funded health plans, such as Medicaid, will not cover such therapy either.

Minnesota law defines a vulnerable adult as one who "possesses a physical or mental infirmity or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunction" that prevents the person from providing for their own care or preventing mistreatment.

Minnesota is the fourth state to take action against conversion therapy by executive order, in addition to 20 that have passed legislation banning its use on minors by state-licensed professionals. Numerous cities and counties have also barred licensed therapists from subjecting minors to the practice.

LGBTQ+ organizations praised Walz's move. "Taxpayer dollars should never be spent on the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. Thank you to Gov. Tim Walz for taking bold action to protect LGBTQ youth in Minnesota," said a statement from Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project. "We encourage more governors across the country to follow the North Star State and restrict this abusive practice disguised as therapy."

"We applaud Gov. Walz for his leadership in protecting LGBTQ youth and their families from this deadly practice," said Mathew Shurka, a survivor of conversion therapy and cofounder of Born Perfect, a survivor-led campaign to end conversion therapy, created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "This is one of the strongest executive orders in the country and reflects Gov. Walz's understanding that the harms caused by conversion therapy are devastating."

"We at OutFront are incredibly grateful to Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. [Peggy] Flanagan for protecting LGBTQ+ youth and their families from conversion therapy," added James Darville, executive director of OutFront Minnesota. "We also want to thank all of the survivors, organizers, and Minnesotans who have worked tirelessly to eradicate this harmful practice in our state. We Look forward to continuing our work alongside legislators, Gov. Walz, and his team to make Minnesota a more equitable place for all Minnesotans."

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