Special Projects: Conversion Therapy Ordinance
For the past year, the Human Rights Commission has researched the practice of conversion therapy and its impact in Bloomington. Conversion Therapy is any practice performed with the intent of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Research demonstrated that conversion therapy has been discredited by major medical associations as ineffective and likely to cause emotional and mental harm to recipients. Additionally, in June – July 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Council recommended that States ban the practice.
On January 25, 2021, the Human Rights Commission presented their findings and recommended that the City Council adopt an ordinance banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors by licensed mental health practitioners in Bloomington.
On March 1, 2021, at the direction of the City Council, the Human Rights Commission presented a draft ordinance of a conversion therapy ban for Bloomington. The proposed ordinance would ban conversion therapy by licensed providers for minors (age 17 and under) and vulnerable adults as defined by the State of Minnesota. Clergy and religious leaders would be exempt from this ordinance. A public hearing is scheduled for April 19.
- OutFront MN provides advocacy and programs for LGBTQ community in the areas of community organizing, public policy, anti-violence, law, education and training, and Youth and Schools Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Network.
- The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
What is the role of the City’s Human Rights Commission?
The role of the Human Rights Commission is to aid and advise the City Council in all matters of human rights and other matters which affect the well-being of the community.
What is conversion therapy?
Conversion therapy is any practice, conduct, or treatment by a provider that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.
Conversion therapy does not include any mental health services that provides assistance to an individual undergoing gender transition, or mental health services that facilitates an individual’s acceptance, support, understanding, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as the mental health services does not seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Conversion therapy is also sometimes called reparative therapy.
Who is protected by the conversion therapy ordinance?
- Minors - Any person under the age of 18
- Vulnerable Adults - Any person 18 or older and who meets the definition of vulnerable adult in Minnesota law
Who is prevented from practicing or conducting conversion therapy within Bloomington?
- A licensed provider - an individual who is licensed, certified, or registered under the laws of the State of Minnesota to provide mental health services, including mental health practitioners and mental health professionals.
- Providers include, but are not limited to, physicians specializing in the practice of psychiatry, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, clinical counselors, behavioral clinicians or therapists, nurses, or any other persons conducting or practicing such mental health services.
Who is exempt from this ordinance?
Clergy or religious officials - Recognized religious officials, including ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, Christian Science practitioners, and other persons recognized by the Minnesota Board of Psychology, conducting counseling activities that are within the scope of the performance of their regular recognizable religious denomination or sect if the religious official does not hold them self out as a provider, and the official remains accountable to the established authority of the religious denomination or sect.
What are prohibited conduct and exceptions to the ordinance?
- Unlawful for a provider to conduct or practice conversion therapy on a minor or vulnerable adult within the City limits.
- Does not apply to members of the clergy or religious officials.
- Does not prohibit the practice of conversion therapy on individuals over the age of 18 and who are able to make decisions regarding their own medical or mental health.
- Does not prohibit the practice of conversion therapy on minors who are able to give effective consent to medical and mental health services under Minnesota law.
What is the enforcement and penalties for licensed providers?
- Violation is an administrative offense and enforced through the administrative enforcement and hearing process outlined in City Code.
- Warning letter may be issued upon an initial report of a licensed provider conducting or practicing conversion therapy.
- Each session of conversion therapy with a minor or vulnerable adult is a separate violation.
- Civil penalty amounts:
- 1st Offense: $500
- 2nd Offense: $1,000
- The City Attorney will report a violation to the appropriate licensing board.
When will the conversion therapy ordinance go into effect?
The ordinance will go into effect on January 3, 2022. This date will allow City staff sufficient time to develop reporting mechanisms, educational and informational resources and investigation procedures, and establish coordination with other internal and external governmental agencies
What other Minnesota cities have adopted conversion therapy bans?
- Minneapolis - November 2019
- Duluth - December 2019
- St. Paul - June 2020
- Red Wing - June 2020
- Winona - August 2020
- West St. Paul - August 2020
- Robbinsdale – February 2021
What has been done in Minnesota to enact a statewide ban?
- Minnesota House — HF 12: Introduced and referred to Health and Human Services Policy on January 10, 2019. HF 12 passed Health and Human Services Policy and was referred to Commerce on February 14, 2019. HF 12 was last read in February 2020. No further work was done due, in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Minnesota Senate – SF 83: Introduced and referred to Health and Human Services Finance and Policy on January 10, 2019. No actions were taken by the Minnesota Senate.
- 2021 Mental Health Protections Act: Will be presented in the coming weeks during the current legislative session – passage is uncertain.