Red Wing, Minn., Votes to Ban Conversion Therapy for Minors

RED WING, Minnesota (June 23, 2020) — The Red Wing City Council voted last night to ban conversion therapy for minors. The vote makes Red Wing the fourth city in the state to protect youth from this harmful practice, after Duluth, Minneapolis and most recently St. Paul.

The new ordinance prohibits licensed medical and mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy for minors. Red Wing is a city of 16,000 people located an hour southeast of the Twin Cities. The vote was 6-0 with one abstention. OutFront Minnesota and Safe Space Red Wing were among the groups carrying the proposed ban to victory.

Officials took this step to proactively protect families and young people in their community. According to The Post Bulletin, council member Becky Norton said of “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy: “It’s not welcome here.” Council member Evan Brown said, “I don’t consider this is therapy of any kind.”

City Council members Becky Norton, Evan Brown, and Erin Buss

‘Conversion therapy’ is neither

Born Perfect Co-Founder Mathew Shurka agreed with Brown.

“Conversion therapy is neither therapy nor conversion. It is a combination of shame-based verbal abuse and misinformation that has been discredited by medical science — and by survivors,” Shurka said. “Conversion therapy reinforces depression, low self esteem, family breakdown, and suicidal tendencies. It changes neither sexual orientation nor gender identity. Red Wing’s city council took the right step to prevent serious harm to Red Wing’s youths, and to prevent parents from being misled.”

Starting at age 16, Shurka spent five years in conversion therapy, including being told that an overbearing mother and distant father caused his homosexuality — resulting in years of family conflict.

“Red Wing is saving lives by protecting young people from this dangerous practice,” Shurka said today. “They have reaffirmed that LGBTQ youth are born perfect and that no young person should be told that who they are is not OK.”

‘When we say these things, we mean them’

“Red Wing is joining dozens of other localities across the country who are standing up for LGBTQ youth to ensure that they cannot be subjected to this dangerous and harmful practice,” said Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which provides legal support to U.S. states and cities in implementing and defending bans. “In addition to preventing mental health professionals from engaging in this fraudulent practice with minors, this law will help to educate parents and others that attempts to change a younger person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are extremely damaging.”

The city’s Human Rights Commission had previously cleared the ban for council consideration. High school health teacher Lisa Hanson told the commission that “as a health teacher and an ally of those who have been marginalized in our society and in our community, I have to speak out because I have seen firsthand the harm that has come to these people because of the thinking that they can change.” Erin Buss, the City Council liaison to the commission, said: “Our city’s mission is to create a community where every person feels at home. Banning conversion therapy supports that endeavor and shows the youth — and adult — in our community that when we say these things, we mean them.”

Born Perfect is a survivor-led program created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) in 2014 to end conversion therapy by passing laws across the country that protect LGBTQ children and young people, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.

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