RED WING -- Two students who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community asked the City Council on Monday to ban conversion therapy.
“I have personally known people to go through conversion therapy and they will be dealing with the trauma they experienced there for years to come,” said Alainn Hanson, a student liaison to the Human Rights Commission.
Red Wing is now the fourth city in Minnesota to have banned conversion therapy. The community of about 16,000 people followed Minneapolis, Duluth and St. Paul.
READ MORE: Conversion therapy banned in Red Wing
The City Council defined conversion therapy as “any practice 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.”
Micah Marks, also a Human Rights Commission student liaison, stated, "ever since I realized several years ago that I was just as capable of loving a man as I was a woman, I have begun to notice the way that we reinforce in our day-to-day lives that it is not normal. That it is not acceptable. I began to notice the casual use of slurs among my peers, the ways that older members of my family seemed uncomfortable with the topic of same-sex relationships and the way that people like me were criminally underrepresented in our government. Due to all of the stigma around my identity, I wanted to repress it. I wanted to tell myself I was normal. And I did.”
There are currently 20 states that have laws or regulations against this practice and many mental health and psychology organizations oppose conversion therapy for minors. This list includes The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, The American Psychoanalytic Association, The American School Health Association, The National Association of Social Workers and The Pan American Health Organization.
The conversation around conversion therapy -- especially for minors -- is being held around the world. In a May 2020 report, the United Nations General Assembly wrote:
“United Nations entities and human rights mechanisms have expressed concern about practices of conversion therapy and the United Nations anti-torture machinery has concluded that they can amount to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
An NPR story published in April 2019 stated, “kids whose parents try to change their sexual orientation attempt suicide at more than double the rate of their LGBT peers; the suicide rate is nearly triple among young people who also deal with intervention from ‘therapists and religious leaders.’"
The U.N.’s report stated that young people disproportionately experience conversion therapy. A global survey’s findings state that “four out of five persons subjected to (practices of conversion therapy) were 24 years of age or younger at the time and, of those, roughly half were under 18 years of age.”
Hanson concluded her remarks on Monday before the 6-0 vote by stating:
“I believe that we have a duty to ban conversion therapy, and to show that LGBT people are welcome here. And I stand before you today as a member of the HRC and as a young, bisexual woman, and most importantly as a human being to urge you to please support this ban on conversion therapy.”