Monday, February 6, 2012

One town's war on gay teens

Rolling Stone has a searing article about the rate of suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota (Michelle Bachman's district). It is a must read, as it shows how a culture grew up in which teachers were not allowed to make any positive references to gay people, and literally looked the other way as gay kids were bullied mercilessly. At the same time, the local right wingers explained the spate of gay suicides as having nothing to do with bullying, and entirely reflecting the "unhealthiness" of being gay.

 This is an utter failure of institutions that should put a child's welfare first. It's a shameful example of the bigotry, ignorance and hatred against which we must continue to fight--and a shameful example of how so-called "Christians" can be anything but.  Here's a selection (my emphases) but you should definitely read the whole thing 

 Yet while everyone in the district was buzzing about the neutrality policy, the board simply refused to discuss it, not even when students began appearing before them to detail their experiences with LGBT harassment. "The board stated quite clearly that they were standing behind that policy and were not willing to take another look," recalls board member Wenzel. Further insulating itself from reality, the district launched an investigation into the suicides and unsurprisingly, absolved itself of any responsibility. "Based on all the information we've been able to gather," read a statement from the superintendent's office, "none of the suicides were connected to incidents of bullying or harassment."  
 Just to be on the safe side, however, the district held PowerPoint presentations in a handful of schools to train teachers how to defend gay students from harassment while also remaining neutral on homosexuality. One slide instructed teachers that if they hear gay slurs – say, the word "fag" – the best response is a tepid "That language is unacceptable in this school." ("If a more authoritative response is needed," the slide added, the teacher could continue with the stilted, almost apologetic explanation, "In this school we are required to welcome all people and to make them feel safe.") But teachers were, of course, reminded to never show "personal support for GLBT people" in the classroom.


PseudoPiskie said...

I feel the need to comment but, having read the entire article, I can't without being really nasty. Those people are mentally deficient.

Anonymous said...

There's a variety of caselaw about the need to provide a school environment free of bullying and harassment. Further, the EEO has said that harassment based on perceived sexual orientation is sexual harassment. I suggest that persons suffering in this environment see an attorney immediately to evaluate the possibility of legal action against the district.