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LGBTQ+ Rights Contested in State Legislature

Abi Hilden & Annabella Castillo, staff writers

LGBTQ+ rights are a hotly contested topic in today’s political arena. Recently, two new bills have been proposed in the Minnesota State Legislature: a bill imposing restrictions on bathroom access and a bill banning conversion therapy in the state of Minnesota.

H.F. 3843, dubbed the “Trans Bathroom Bill,” aims to reduce bathroom usage to a dichotomy based on biological sex. Under this bill, trans people would be forced to use bathrooms that don’t align with their gender identity. The bill applies to public restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms as well as restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms located in public schools and universities.

The language of this bill holds anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. It says, “No claim of nontraditional identity or ‘sexual orientation’ may override another person’s​ right of privacy based on biological sex in such facilities.” This asserts privacy as an unequivocal right and implies restroom usage according to gender identity to be a threat to that privacy. 

Opposition from the Democratic party hinges on the immorality of policing bathroom usage for people with gender identities that don’t fit perfectly in the binary definition of gender.

“It’s not truly about bathrooms – it’s about the right of trans people to exist in public.” said Danny Reinan, copy editor of the Echo. “This is a bill proclaiming that we should not be allowed to exist in the same spaces as cisgender people – whether it be because we are not truly the genders we say we are, or because we are branded as predators who would infiltrate bathrooms for nefarious purposes.” 

The bill was proposed to the Minnesota House of Representatives and is awaiting further action, though many are doubtful that it will pass.

Another bill concerned with LGBTQ+ rights, H.F. 2156, proposes the banning of conversion therapy in the state of Minnesota. Conversion therapy is the forceful converting of queer youth into observing traditional gender identities or heterosexual attraction, often through religious practices. 

The proposed bill’s specifics include the following: “A bill for an act relating to health; prohibiting conversion therapy with children or vulnerable adults; prohibiting medical assistance coverage for conversion therapy; prohibiting the misrepresentation of conversion therapy services or products.”

Supporters argue that conversion therapy is tantamount to torture and an act of discrimination, while having little to no scientific basis that it produces the desired result. They also note the link between LGBTQ+ youth who undergo this process and increased suicidality.

A notable supporter and sponsor of the bill is Rep. Athena Hollins, DFL-St. Paul, who spoke to MPR about the harm that conversion therapy can cause to queer youth.

“It’s been denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Hollins said. “This bill would prevent teens and young adults from being coerced into treatments that are ineffective and lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and even suicide.”

 “There’s a reason why people who have been through conversion therapy are called ‘survivors’  – it’s because so many people who undergo it DON’T survive, often dying by suicide as a result of the emotional toll of such horrific abuse,” continued Reinan. “A ban on the practice would make a world of difference for so many vulnerable LGBT+ youth, who would not have to be subject to a practice that would punish them for being who they are and try to brainwash them into being someone they aren’t.”

The proposed bill has moved to the House Health Finance and Policy Committee, and is awaiting further action along with a companion bill in the Minnesota State Senate.