July 21, 2011,Melanie Nathan,
NCLR and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the “gag policy” at Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District that prevents school staff from talking about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues, and creates an environment where LGBT students are relentlessly bullied.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five past and present students, who each faced severe harassment because they are LGBT or other students perceived them as LGBT. The lawsuit describes numerous incidents, including a student who reported chronic anti-LGBT harassment to school authorities for more than two years, only to have school officials suggest that he leave the school because they could not protect him.
NCLR and the SPLC began investigating reports of pervasive anti-LGBT bullying in Anoka-Hennepin—the state’s largest school District with 38,500 students—in 2010 after several LGBT students from the District died by suicide. We quickly discovered that the issue of bullying was affecting families and young people across the District, and that the hostile environment was clearly rooted in and encouraged by the discriminatory gag policy. No other school District in Minnesota has such a policy.
In May 24, 2011, SPLC and NCLR sent a letter to the District demanding that officials immediately repeal the gag policy, and take action to address the bullying and harassment that LGBT students in the District regularly face. The District announced yesterday that it is sticking by the gag policy, and as a result, NCLR and SPLC filed suit today, along with the law firm of Faegre & Benson.
I hope they are forced to admit the truth, and that is …that a small group of religious zealots are dictating policy and the school board appears beholden to them and NOT the students it’s their job to educate and protect. They would have the public believe they have no problem with classroon discussion on the subject asking only that it be kept to district approved curriculum on the subject, which sounds good in theory yet when I asked the very simple question of “Where can I find “district approved curriculum” that speaks to or on homosexuality?” I was told “there is none”, so in other words teachers would have no reason (or be authorized) to speak on the subject at all…period. These “play on words” games have gone on for months and months and have cost children their lives, and has to be stopped. They argue that a teacher can and should step in and intervene in a bullying situation and that the neutrality policy has no affect on the bullying, yet what they don’t tell the public, press or lawyers is any kid who is targeted because he/her is LGBTQ is to be referred to the school social worker for assessment….like they are sick or something?? This group mentality that all “other” students need protection from all things LGBTQ is ridiculous for two reasons. One…it implies there is something wrong with these kids, who are NOT the perpetrators but rather victims of the hostility and it validates the bullies “fear of them” but two…it tells these LGBTQ kids they are less than everyone else and unworthy of equal protection, recognition and respect and that is unacceptable from a moral and legal standpoint. As a parent and taxpayer in this school district I am embarrassed and ashamed at the position and inaction of this school board, and for many like me it’s a lose-lose situation, we lose knowing that this is going on and is a black stain on our whole community painting us all as ignorant and bigoted but we lose again when (not if) they lose and our property taxes get jacked up to cover the settlements and possible loss of federal funding because this school board cannot or will not stand up to the true bullies like Barb Anderson and Minnesota Family Councel……very sad.
Coon Rapids parent
Melissa thank you for your comments and this important information.
These educated bas**r*s aren’t going to learn until the lawsuits against them ar won and the schools districts are bankrupt! There seems to be no other wy to resolve the rights of ALL people.