On May 19th, 2022, state senator Scott Dibble (DFL - Minneapolis) motioned to bring SF 1871, a bill “Prohibiting conversion therapy with children or vulnerable adults,” to the Senate floor for debate. While the maneuver proved that a majority of senators would support the bill, it wasn’t enough to pass the legislation through the Republican-controlled Senate.
But that wasn’t the only issue, as Dibble’s bill failed to include a prohibition on conversion therapies for Autistic people. Additionally, because past bills are not viable for the 2023 session, SF 1871 cannot be amended.
Therefore, to ban all forms of conversion therapy in Minnesota, we must organize, unify, and mobilize the Autistic and LGBTQIA+ communities to flip the Senate, pressure the Legislature to introduce and pass a new bill, and get the Governor to sign the prohibition into law by April 2nd to commemorate World Autism Acceptance Day!
Why is this important?
The Autistic community, like the LGBTQIA+ community, has been wrongfully pathologized and oppressed. In fact, the very same people who attempted to convert gay children into straight children began by attempting to convert Autistic children into neurotypical children.
In 1961, Norwegian psychologist Dr. Ole Ivar Lovaas was hired by UCLA to investigate the perceived behavioral problems of Autistic children. Inspired by the work of Harvard psychologist Dr. Burrhus Frederic Skinner, Lovaas developed Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to make Autistic children “indistinguishable from their peers.” More than a decade later, in 1972, Lovaas and his team of researchers used ABA to “treat” gay children in the government-funded Feminine Boy Project.
Fortunately, the queer movement was able to mobilize and force the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and World Health Organization (WHO) to remove homosexuality from their lists of mental illnesses, which, in turn, shifted public discourse towards banning conversion therapies for LGBTQIA+ children. Unfortunately, the Neurodiversity Movement, in its infancy, has not been able to build up the same kind of popular support for demedicalizing the neurocognitive style of Autism, so conversion therapies for Autistic children still persist under the guise of “treatment.”
Indeed, even the public school system employs ABA practitioners to “help” children in special education courses, which are just another manifestation of segregation (in this case discrimination against neurominorities). But if the queer and Autistic powerhouses unite under the same banner, we can show the Minnesota Legislature that, by neglecting to prohibit ABA and its derivatives—Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), “social skills training,” and so forth—it is actively legitimizing autistiphobia.
Furthermore, because Autistic people are more likely to identify as LGBTQIA+, when so-called allies of the queer community permit medical assistance coverage of ABA, they are, in effect, sentencing the very children they claim to support to suffer through conversion therapy in its original form. To this we say, “No more.”
Sign and share this petition to show the Minnesota Legislature that ABA has no place in the land of 10,000 lakes!
To learn more about the unjust pathologization of Autistics, the evidence against ABA interventions, and the international effort to ban them, please read and/or listen to the following sources: