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'Perfect Just The Way They Are': State House Member Proposes Conversion Therapy Ban

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A newly-elected Minnesota lawmaker is pushing to ban a kind of therapy that aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

State Rep.-elect Hunter Cantrell wants Minnesota to pass a ban on conversion therapy. He will represent Burnsville and Savage.

"We have to be advocates for people who aren't able to be advocates for themselves," Cantrell said.

There are currently 14 states that ban conversion therapy, along with Washington, D.C.

Cantrell, who is openly gay, wants Minnesota added to the list.

"The approach of practitioners of conversion therapy is to approach it as something that needs to be treated when really people who are LGBTQ are perfect just the way they are," Cantrell said.

The bill would prevent licensed mental health care providers from practicing conversion therapy on youth under age 18.

OutFront Minnesota says dozens of practices offer the therapy across the state.

"Conversion therapy is a so-called mental health treatment that aims to change a person because of their sexuality or gender expression," said Cat Salonek, policy director for OutFront Minnesota.

The American Psychiatric Association has said it opposes any treatment based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

Salonek says an official ban on conversion therapy would help prevent issues LGBTQ youth face, including depression, substance abuse and suicide.

"Having a young person medicalized, institutionalized just for being who they are is traumatizing," Salonek said.

The issue of conversion therapy has even received attention in Hollywood.

In theaters Friday is a movie called "Boy Erased." It's a story of a young man who is forced into a conversion program, with performances from big stars like Nicole Kidman and Russell Crow.

OutFront Minnesota says the ban has been brought up in previous years but never passed.

Cantrell will assume his position in the Minnesota House in January.

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