Conversion therapy ban
Prohibition of conversion therapy for minors and vulnerable adults
The Northfield City Council approved a city ordinance that prohibits conversion therapy for minors and vulnerable adults effective August 20, 2022.
Definition of conversion therapy
As defined in the city ordinance, conversion therapy is any practice or treatment by a provider that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
The prohibited practice applies to any licensed medical or mental health professional. It does not include members of the clergy or religious officials who are acting in their roles as clergy, religious officials, or pastoral counselors and providing religious counseling.
Conversion therapy does not include mental health services that provide assistance to an individual undergoing gender transition or confirmation, or facilitate an individual’s acceptance, support, understanding, exploration, and development of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Research and findings of conversation therapy
The practice of conversion therapy has been found to lead to critical health risks and inequities including anxiety, depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, self-harm and suicide. According to a Trevor Project’s 2019 national survey, 42% LGBTQ+ youth who have undergone conversion therapy have attempted suicide, compared to 17% who have not undergone conversion therapy.
Major medical, mental health and child welfare professional associations, including the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics have all have found conversion therapy ineffective, unreliable and unsafe. According to the American Psychiatric Association, there is no evidence of conversion therapy actually being “successful” in changing a person’s identity.
Locally, the Allina Health Northfield Clinic sent a letter to the City Council in support of the city ordinance. Allina is an integrated health system that provides services for one-third of Minnesotans across the care continuum from family medicine to advanced specialty care; including mental health and addiction.
The Northfield Human Rights Commission started researching this topic in June 2021 with help from Red Wing Human Rights Commission, who had recently passed their conversion therapy ban ordinance. In July 2021, Governor Walz signed an executive order for all state agencies to protect Minnesotans from conversion therapy to the fullest extent of their authority. The State of Minnesota has yet to legally ban conversion therapy despite active efforts at the Legislature.
Northfield joins more than 100 municipalities nationally, 20 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in banning this practice.
Enforcement of the ordinance
Allegations will be investigated as civil offenses. The Northfield Police Department will investigate reports of alleged violations.
Violators will be fined $1,000 for the first violation and $1,000 for any subsequent violations, the maximum allowed under state statute. Violations will also be reported to Northfield Human Rights Commission and the Minnesota Human Rights Commission.
To file a complaint, contact the Northfield Police Department at 763-645-4477.