Minnesota should protect its minors

Minnesota lawmakers should get to work on making sexual orientation conversion therapy illegal for minors.

Minnesota may be moving one step closer to a ban on sexual orientation therapy for minors. Two University of Minnesota students are collecting signatures for a petition asking the state Legislature to “pass a bill that would prevent licensed therapists and counselors from using sexual orientation conversion therapy on minors,” the Minnesota Daily reported last month.

Bans on conversion therapy for minors are still uncommon nationwide. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law making “sexual-orientation change efforts” for minors illegal in 2012, and a federal appeals court upheld the law a year later. New Jersey became the second state to institute a ban when Gov. Chris Christie signed a similar law in August, which was upheld in November by U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson.

In May, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a bill redefining Minnesota’s marriage law as gender-neutral. There is no better time for lawmakers to continue advocating for LGBT rights by passing a bill that makes it illegal for Minnesota therapists to use conversion therapy on minors. It is important that the state take measures against such practices, which the Pan-American Health Organization has said “represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

The petition, written by University students, is posted on Change.org and has reached more than 83,000 signatures as of Sunday afternoon. A policy banning conversion therapy should easily receive bipartisan support in the state Legislature. We urge lawmakers to recognize this issue and work swiftly to protect Minnesota minors from this harmful practice.