RED WING -- The Human Rights Commission voted on Thursday to recommend that the City Council ban conversion therapy for minors.
Minnesota is one of 30 states that have not banned conversion therapy. If the City Council approves the local ban, Red Wing would be the third city in the state to ban conversion therapy, after Minneapolis and Duluth. The therapy is used to try change a person's sexual orientation.
Five of the Human Rights Commission members were in attendance and they passed the item with four votes in favor of the motion and one abstainer.
A majority of the community members who spoke during the meeting were in favor of the ban.
Lisa Hanson is a health teacher at Red Wing High School. She told the commission:
“These practices have been discredited for decades by all the major medical associations.” Hanson later added, “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.”
Shelley Pohlman spoke against the recommended ban. She stated:
“I am concerned about government overreach of parental rights. Parents have the right to seek counsel from their local physician, pastor and their mental health care provider regarding their children.” She later added, “In your agenda packet, you included information from Out Front Minnesota and the Trevor Project but you didn't include information from the Bible, Focus on the Family, or The Heritage Foundation, which would provide balance to the discussion. In the new community pledge that this body created, you said you would hear all sides of the issue.”
Conversion therapy has been studied and written about by numerous organizations. The U.S. National Library of Medicine published an article about conversion therapy in 2016 that says, in part:
“Major mental health organizations have rejected conversion therapy as a treatment modality given that there is no rigorous scientific evidence to support the claim that sexual orientation can be changed and there is evidence that these treatments can cause harm to patients. Regulatory bodies must take these issues into consideration when evaluating claims regarding these treatments.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has published information about and opinions on conversion therapy. One article states:
“A study conducted by the Family Acceptance Project (2009) found that LGB teens who reported higher levels of family rejection, including admission to conversion therapy, were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sex when compared to LGB peers that reported no or low levels of family rejection.”
After the meeting Erin Buss, the City Council liaison to the commission, told the Republican Eagle:
“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.”