Minesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District calls its sexual orientation policy “neutral”. but there is nothing neutral about preventing teachers from discussing homosexuality with students. The policy of silence, even in the face of out of control bullying against students perceived to be gay or lesbian, has led to no less than seven students taking their own lives over the past two years alone.
It’s worth noting that the Anoka-Hennepin School District is located in Michele Bachmann‘s congressional district. Bachmann, as you know by now, runs an ex-gay conversion therapy counseling center with her husband Marcus that illegally accepts federal Medicare dollars for a “treatment” that has been denounced by every single medical, psychiatric and psychological organization in the country.
Bachmann has made a career out of demonizing LGBT Minnesotans, and it comes as no surprise to learn that she is the representative for this school district in the United States House of Representatives.
Something is clearly wrong here.
Now the students of the school district are suing the irresponsible administrators who continue to enforce a Don’t Say Gay policy.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Faegre & Benson, LLP today sued the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, challenging the pervasive anti-gay harassment in the district’s schools as well as a “gag policy” that prevents teachers from discussing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five students who have faced severe anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in school. It charges that the district’s gag policy perpetuates the abuses suffered by these students and others.
The groups filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota after the school district failed to address the persistent abuse or repeal its discriminatory policy.
“We are disappointed that the district fails to see the serious harm this policy is causing its students,” said Sam Wolfe, the SPLC’s lead attorney in the case. “School and district officials who are entrusted with the safety and education of all students continue to ignore, minimize, dismiss and even blame victims for the abusive behavior of other students.”
The lawsuit charges that LGBT students and students perceived as LGBT were subjected to anti-LGBT slurs on a daily basis and were physically threatened or attacked by peers. While many of these abuses occurred in front of teachers or were reported to school officials, school personnel almost always took insufficient action to stop the abuse.
“There is something seriously wrong in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, and district officials know it,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “In school after school, kids who are perceived as gay are harassed mercilessly until they drop out, melt down or lash back. This epidemic of harassment – unlike anything we’ve seen in neighboring districts – is plainly fueled by the district’s shameful and illegal policy singling out LGBT people and LGBT people alone for total exclusion from acknowledgement within the classroom.”
The lawsuit comes a day after Anoka-Hennepin officials denied any responsibility for the severe and pervasive harassment suffered by LGBT students. It was also reported on Wednesday that the district is at the center of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights into reports of anti-gay bullying.
Students allege that teachers refused to discipline bullies in the school district even after multiple complaints about harassment, and even forced LGBT students to walk the hallways alone at separate ti