At present, gay people in Minnesota have the same marriage rights as anyone else; yet, “ex-gay” therapy is still legal. That didn’t make sense to openly gay filmmaker Alec Fischer, who started a petition on Change.org urging the state to ban it—and then assisted State Representative Karen Clark (D-Minneapolis) in authoring a bill to do just that.
Fischer, who is best known for his documentary about bullying and suicide, “Minnesota Nice?,” is all too familiar with the damage homophobia can cause. In the introduction to his petition, he writes, “I have experienced many forms of discrimination due to my sexual orientation. I was bullied horrifically in middle school for being perceived as gay, and like many people who experience bullying, the problem got so bad that I attempted suicide.
“Thankfully, when I got to high school, I was fortunate enough to come out to peers and family members who loved and accepted me for who I was. But we know this is not the case for many other youth who identify as LGBT in our state and across the country. That’s why I want my state to take a stand for LGBT youth, and ban ‘ex-gay’ conversion therapy.”
According to a change.org press release sent to 429Magazine, “Fischer said that he and fellow University of Minnesota student Gabe Aderhold have drafted a final bill with State Representative Karen Clark, and hope to introduce it before the legislative session begins in February. Earlier this year, Minnesota State Senator Scott Dibble said that he was considering efforts to restrict ‘ex-gay therapy,’ saying ‘these therapies are premised on a falsehood.’”
Clark and Dibble, who are credited with helping bring marriage equality to Minnesota, seem likely to team up once again for the bill co-authored with Fischer. If passed, the state would become the third, after California and New Jersey, to ban ex-gay therapy.
The “ex-gay” movement, which claims homosexuality can be “cured” through religious-based therapy, has existed since the 1970s. Proof of its “success” is limited; one of the first, Exodus International, apologized for the pain it had caused the LGBT community and closed down in June 2013, a year and a half after then-president Alan Chambers stated that conversion therapy doesn’t work, and apologized for attempting to force such a change; such programs have been directly linked to depression and suicide in participants.
In 2009, the American Psychological Association released an official report, titled “Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation,” stating that it was “unlikely” that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation can achieve any of its stated goals, and that they “found that there was some evidence to indicate that individuals experienced harm…negative side effects included loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality, and anxiety.”