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Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) on Thursday signed an executive order significantly restricting the use of conversion therapy in the state.

Why it matters: There is no scientific evidence to support the use of conversion therapy, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which says the practice can instead lead to depression, anxiety and suicide.

  • At least 20 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have banned the controversial practice.

What they're saying: "We want you to be whoever you are, and that should seem like a pretty simple statement. The fact of the matter is, it’s not," Walz said, addressing the state's LGBTQ community.

  • "Our kids deserve to grow up in a state that values them for who they are – not one that tries to change them," he added.
  • "This Executive Order aims to protect young and vulnerable Minnesotans from the cruel and discredited practice of conversion therapy and affirms that the LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of One Minnesota."
  • "We call on our partners in the Legislature to move a comprehensive ban on conversion therapy across the finish line – but we will not wait to do what’s right."

Details: Walz's executive order restricts conversion therapy by directing the state Health and Commerce Departments to request declarations from health maintenance organizations and health plan companies that they do not cover conversion therapy.

  • It also requires the Health Department to report on the public health impacts of conversion therapy.
  • The state Human Rights Department will also investigate and pursue civil enforcement actions against health providers who engage in practices related to conversion therapy.
  • The Human Services Department is not allowed to pay for conversion therapy using state funds.

The big picture: Walz does not have the authority to fully ban the practice. That authority falls to the legislature. The GOP-controlled state Senate has pushed back on banning the practice, Axios' Torey Van Oot notes.

  • Republicans across the country object banning it because "it encroaches on religious freedom," Fox News writes.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details about the order.

Go deeper

Oct 18, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Minnesota offers cash and chance at $100K scholarship as vaccine incentive for teens

Expand chart
Data: Minnesota COVID-19 Response; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Minnesota is offering new incentives to shot-wary teens in an effort to boost the state's COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Driving the news: 12 to 17 year olds who get both doses over the next six weeks will receive a $200 Visa gift card, Gov. Tim Walz's administration announced Monday.

  • Kids vaccinated during this period can also enter a lottery for one of five $100,000 scholarships to attend any of the state's public or private colleges or universities.

Why it matters: Public health officials say increasing vaccination rates among young Minnesotans is key to curbing spread of the virus, especially in schools.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.