Bill aims to end conversion therapy

Let’s talk about something LGBT folks endure but few have heard about: conversion therapy.

Think back to a time you doubted your self-worth and belonging in the world. A time when thoughts of inadequacy, fear and powerlessness prevented you from embracing and loving yourself as the beautiful, whole person you are. This is exactly what conversion therapy does to thousands of LGBT youth every year. And even worse, practicing it as a health care professional on minors is still legal and paid for by taxpayer dollars in Minnesota. Conversion therapy still happens in Minnesota.

For those who may not know, conversion therapy is any action performed on someone with the intent of changing their sexual orientation or gender identity. These actions range from shaming to adverse conditioning and can even intensify to electroshock therapy.

Some licensed psychologists choose to prey on the concerned love of good-intentioned parents and perform this “therapy” on gender or sexual orientation non-conforming youth, despite the fact that the nation’s leading mental health associations have deemed it ineffective and dangerous.

And it is dangerous. Because of this practice, we have lost people. Good people. Many youth continue to suffer the effects into adulthood, and for some, the trauma is so overwhelming they take their own lives.

Imagine three people in your life that identify as LGBT. Picture their faces, their personalities and their stories. They may be family members, friends, classmates or acquaintances. The National Center for Lesbian Rights estimates that as many as one in three LGBT people have undergone some form of conversion therapy.

Think of that. One out of every three LGBT people you know of has probably undergone some form of conversion therapy, and the effects of that trauma have inflicted scars deeper and wider than you may know. That’s where Can’t Convert Love comes in. This group of folks has banded together with the mission of ending this severely unsafe and ineffective practice in Minnesota and is currently introducing a bill called the Protection from Conversion Therapy Act, which would outlaw this practice for our Minnesota youth and vulnerable adults if passed.

Together as the passionate, caring students we are at the University of Minnesota, we can protect our marginalized youth. Tell your friends, share on social media and get the conversation started. Better yet, contact your local legislator. As Margaret Mead put it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”