Walz issues executive order restricting conversion therapy in Minnesota

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order Thursday to restrict conversion therapy in Minnesota through a series of new regulations. But, he says his ultimate goal is to get the state Legislature to pass a law banning the practice statewide. 

Conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity, is widely discredited. Nearly two dozen other states already ban or partially ban conversion therapy.

In the past, efforts to outlaw the practice across Minnesota have been blocked by Senate Republicans, who argue it encroaches on religious freedoms.

Several Minnesota cities have already banned conversion therapy. In 2019, Minneapolis became the first city to ban the practice, followed by St. Paul and Duluth. Red Wing, West St. Paul, Winona, Robbinsdale and Bloomington all eventually followed Minneapolis’ lead.

Walz’s order does not ban conversion therapy outright, but it seeks to restrict the practice by directing state agencies to take the following actions:

  • The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Commerce will request attestations from health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and health plan companies that they do not cover conversion therapy and pursue administrative remedies against HMOs and health plan companies that engage in unfair business practices related to conversion therapy. MDH and Commerce will also engage in rulemaking as necessary to restrict coverage of conversion therapy.
  • MDH will prepare a report on the public health impacts of conversion therapy.
  • The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) will not pay for conversion therapy services through Minnesota Health Care Programs such as Medicaid and will pursue recovery for payment for conversion therapy services.
  • The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) will investigate and pursue civil enforcement actions against health care providers who are engaged in discriminatory practices related to conversion therapy.

"This [executive order] will take one more step, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say it, our real goal needs to be to just outright ban this discredited practice. Do it through the legislative process and do it for all Minnesotans," Walz said. "But, today is that first step. Protect our minors, protect our most vulnerable Minnesotans and say it to the rest of the state and the rest of the country, Minnesota is here to make sure that love prevails." 

Advocacy groups say attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation is abusive, especially for young people, and can lead to depression, drug use and suicide.

Walz’s order comes ahead of Twin Cities Pride this weekend.