The Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota is at the center of a major lawsuit and federal investigation over its so-called “neutrality policy,” which prohibits staff from teaching about homosexuality and fosters an anti-gay culture of harassment and bullying. Eight students have committed suicide over the last two years, and the situation in Annoka-Hennepin is so bad that state public health officials have labeled the area a “suicide contagion area” because of the unusually high death rate.
Yet today, the Minnesota Independent reports that the school district is failing teachers who refuse to endorse the neutrality policy, taking a stand against the dangerously antiquated idea that less discussion about LGBT issues somehow makes “students feel safe”:
Some teachers at Anoka-Hennepin School District have failed a teachers test because they refused to affirm that the district’s policy limiting discussions of LGBT issues in the district’s schools is intended to make “students feel safe.”
The district’s policy is at the heart of a culture war in the district and is the subject of a lawsuit by six students and their parents who say the district has not taken appropriate steps to prevent bullying against students who are, or are perceived to be, LGBT.
City Pages reported on Wednesday that a training test required by all teachers contains the question: “One of the goals of the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy is to ensure all of our students feel safe and respected in our classrooms and/or while participating in school activities: true or false?”
City Pages notes that several teachers in the district are refusing to answer “true,” which causes them to fail the training test.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), whose congressional district includes the Anoka-Hennepin schools, faced criticism for remaining silent on epidemic of gay bullying and suicides for months. When the presidential candidate finally weighed in this month, all she had to say about the bullying contagion claiming so many lives in her district was, “not a federal issue.”
Mother Jones notes that groups like the Bachmann-supported Minnesota Family Council have been blamed for contributing to the tragic deaths with their vocal statements that gay teens who commit suicide bring it upon themselves “because they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle.”