Community meeting held to discuss banning conversion therapy

OutFront Minnesota educates community

Tenzin Gyaldatsang

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St.+Louis+Park+residents+discuss+conversion+therapy+at+Union+Congregational+United+Church+of+Christ+Dec.+19.+The+meeting+was+hosted+by+OutFront+Minnesota%2C+who+will+be+hosting+another+meeting+Jan.+9.

Emily Ziessman

St. Louis Park residents discuss conversion therapy at Union Congregational United Church of Christ Dec. 19. The meeting was hosted by OutFront Minnesota, who will be hosting another meeting Jan. 9.

After a community meeting was held at United Church of Christ on December 19th to discuss the use of conversion therapy in St. Louis Park, city event organizer Justin Lewandowski said it went well, with many community members in attendance.

“(The event) went great. One person is better than none and we had 25 folks,” Lewandowski said.

According to GLAAD, conversion therapy is a form of therapy that targets indviduals who identify as LGBTQ+ in an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. 

Lewandowski said it is important for children to be knowledgeable about conversion therapy.

“It’s important for younger kids (to learn about conversion therapy) so they can identify if they are in a therapy office and it’s actually happening to them,” Lewandowski said.

Sophomore Max Pentelovitch said he feels conversion therapy is wrong and unnecessary.

“It’s messed up to try and put someone through therapy to try and change something about them that isn’t hurting anyone or themselves; it’s just something about them,” Pentelovitch said.

Pentelovitch said he believes banning conversion therapy would be beneficial.

“The more counties and cities do it, the more other places are going to follow the example,” Pentelovitch said. “Lessening the fear factor for kids whose parents aren’t supportive definitely makes for a much nicer environment for everyone.”

It’s important particularly for St. Louis Park because there are conversion therapy providers in town, but I know that right now in the movement Minnesota is very close to passing a statewide ban. St. Louis Park is integral to making sure that we keep pushing our state legislators.”

— Justin Lewandowski

Lewandowski said meetings to discuss conversion therapy will reinforce the idea of banning conversion therapy on the statewide level.

Lewandowski said he focused on conversion therapy specifically in St. Louis Park because of the community’s diligence.

“When we started talking about the municipal bans, the first place I reached out to was St. Louis Park because there were a lot of community leaders who wanted to take up the conversation,” Lewandowski said.

City Council member At Large A Larry Kraft said he attended the event to learn about conversion therapy and the motives of the (OutFront) organization.

“I wanted to learn about this issue more and the efforts that have happened in Minneapolis and Duluth and what (OutFront) wants to do here in St. Louis Park,” Kraft said.