Conversion therapy remains legal and lethal


Alex Druley

Conversion therapy, although illegal in Minneapolis, still remains an enormous threat to LGBTQ+ minors with unsupportive parents or guardians. Minnesota has yet to make any extensive strides to outlaw the practice.

America as a nation has experienced change in the past 60 years that some thought would never come. These were the times where civil rights movements for various oppressed groups, including the LGBT community and the infamous Stonewall riots revolutionized traditional societal ideals. These brave people fought hard for the right to love who they wanted to love and be who they wanted to be. Using the individual freedoms inherent to the United States constitution to rally, organize and amplify, these individuals spoke out against the violence they were subjected to for merely being who they were. 

It’s common knowledge now that same sex marriage has become legal in the United States and has empowered LGBTQ+ citizens all over the country. However, the full extent of LGBTQ+ rights is still a long way from complete. A large example of said absence of rights is the continued allowance of conversion therapy within the United States. 

Conversion therapy itself is an age old practice typically involving willing psychologists and religious leaders. Their combined goal is  to change someone’s sexual orientation to fit the supposed norm of heterosexuality. This practice is still performed and endorsed within the United States even after psychiatrists removed homosexuality from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a mental illness. Conversion therapy is a practice that has been known to work against the typical workings of traditional therapy, promoting depression, low self-esteem, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts or tendencies. It’s also been shown to ruin family relationships.  The latter, sometimes forcing minors to falsely blame their parents for their gender or sexual orientation. 

Conversion therapy is what’s known as a pseudoscience. A pseudoscience is a collection of beliefs and statements that claim to be proven under the scientific method but are in fact, incompatible with the scientific method.

“Let’s begin with this simple fact: conversion therapy does not work,” Psychology teacher Mr. Mike Prellwitz said. “There is absolutely no measurable data to support the idea that you can train human sexuality or gender out of a person in order to ‘cure’ them. In fact, it’s this idea of conversion therapy being a cure [that] is so harmful about the practice. We are telling people that they are diseased, defective and sick because of who they are. The damage that does to someone’s mental health is unimaginable.”

Across all 50 states, there are only 20 that have completely banned conversion therapy on minors. Minnesota is one of the states where conversion therapy is still legal. There are cities within Minnesota that have banned it, but the state as a whole has not made any considerable effort to outlaw the practice.

Conversion therapy on minors is especially heinous in that minors are unable to make many of their own decisions regarding their mental health care and therapy needs. If a minor is born into a homophobic or transphobic family, they might be forced to participate in conversion therapy against their own will. 

“There is a ton of development that is happening at all stages of childhood from birth until about 25 years old,” Prellwitz said. “Being LGBTQIA+ is often difficult to navigate on its own, but to kids who have to experience the trauma of conversion therapy, it’s now added a whole new level of shame, self-hate, and anger to the development process. When we see sky-high rates of suicide, self-harm, and homelessness amongst LGBTQIA+ youth, what are the components driving that?”

In November 2019, Minneapolis became the first city to ban conversion therapy on minors. After the initial ban by Minneapolis, a trickle of other cities, including Duluth and St. Paul,  in Minnesota followed suit in banning the immoral practice. That being said, Minneapolis also had a domestic partnership ordinance in place since 1991. A domestic partnership ordinance is something set in place that allows unmarried couples to document their relationship in order to receive voluntary employer benefits and other legal recognitions to protect their families. For a long time, this was the substitute for legal marriage between same-sex couples. This brings up the point of Minneapolis being a very forward-thinking city when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, and not only that, nearly every progressive measure Minneapolis has adopted first has subsequently become adopted statewide and even nationwide. 

So, with this information, while it’s no surprise that Minneapolis jumped on the chance to ban conversion therapy on minors, what’s taking the rest of America, including Minnesota at large, so long to ban this practice?