So, what does the order actually accomplish? It’s basically a smartly placed stepping stone. According to openly gay senator Scott Dibble, who supports a statewide ban of the practice, the order directs agencies in the state to use licensing authorities and insurance reimbursement to have “the effect of barring access” to the practice. For example, this means that state health plans and insurance companies won’t cover the practice in the state. The state, basically, won’t fund the practice.
Why do Republicans keep blocking legislation to truly, comprehensively ban this horrendous practice? State lawmakers cited worries about free speech, while others suggested that because conversion therapy didn’t happen often in the state, a ban wasn’t needed. As though even one youth being subjected to trauma isn’t worthy of action.
One bill trying to ban the practice died in 2019. From there, it died again in 2020. Advocates hope Walz’s order will kick lawmakers back into gear to just ban the practice.
“That needs to be a law,” Dibble said on Thursday, adding it needs to be a “banned practice, no one can receive conversion therapy who doesn’t have legal agency and standing on their own.” Dibble stressed minors need “protection” from the state level, and that’s deeply true. While adults can technically consent to conversion therapy in many states—though even the idea of consenting to this practice is murky, given that we still live in a queerphobic society—states should offer enough protection that, at minimum, no youth are eligible for it.
Junior Avalos shared their story as a queer/nonbinary conversion therapy survivor at the signing ceremony, describing it as a “trauma.” Avalos, who attended conversion therapy at just 16, said they were told there was “something wrong” with them and that they were “broken” and “didn’t deserve” to be here.
At the same signing ceremony, Walz said, “We see you, we hear you, and we will make sure you are in a safe place to be who you are. And this law—this EO—will take one more step.”
In a statement, Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign president, expressed gratitude and celebration toward Walz for signing what he described as a “common sense” executive order, saying it reflects “best practice, expert medical voices and mountains of evidence demonstrating that the outcomes of ‘conversion therapy’ are devastating for youth.”
In a message to LGBTQ+ youth, Dibble said, “You are perfect. You are who you are meant to be. You do not have to change, and please don’t. You are a gift from God. Our state and our world is better because you are part of it. You are a part of us. You are a full member of Minnesota’s family, and beloved.”
Only twenty states have taken actions against conversion therapy.