The Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota is home to a rash of bullying against LGBTQ youth as well as many suicides of those being taunted for their, real or perceived, differences. And one would think that if the district has such a problem with bullying and teen suicide, they'd be leading the way in fighting and stopping bullying, and trying to save lives.
Not so much.
I mean, the Anoka-Hennepin School District has had some version of a “Don’t Say Gay” policy--aka Neutrality policy--that prohibited teachers from affirming LGBT students for years. And that policy basically makes it A-OK for teachers, and school officials, to look the other way when LGBTQ students were being harassed and bullied.
The situation in Anoka-Hennepin Schools was so bad that Minnesota public health officials deemed the area a "suicide contagion" because of the unusually high number of suicides and attempted suicides.
After Rolling Stone printed an in-depth article about the rash of suicides in that school district, the superintendent tried to claim that bullying had nothing to do with the spate of student suicides the district experienced. But the Department of Justice felt otherwise, and after completing an investigation into Anoka-Hennepin, the DOJ found that the district has never properly protected its students from harassment.
When the required the district to implement a new model policy for supporting LGBTQ students and reducing bullying, the Parents Action League—one of those sweet sounding hate groups—insisted that its rhetoric, which includes promoting ex-gay therapies and referring to AIDS as GRID [Gay-Related Immune Deficiency] be included in the new policies moving forward.
Gay therapy doesn’t work and often leads to the patient committing suicide, and to call AIDS a “Gay disease” is like taking a giant leap backwards. The rest of the country has moved on and educated themselves about these issues, but the Anoka-Hennepin School District prefers the Dark Ages.
And that won’t be changing any time soon. The Anoka-Hennepin School District recently formed a new anti-bullying task force--good news, right?--but they seem to have no idea who should be on the team.
Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin committed suicide after being bullied, and who has since dedicated her life to anti-bullying efforts, was rejected from the task force. So was Jefferson Fietek, an anti-bullying trainer who serves as the faculty advisor for the local Gay-Straight Alliance.
So, who did the district appoint to the task force? Hold onto your hats: the task force has appointed Parents Action League spokesman Bryan Lindquist, who describes homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice” and who promoted ex-gay therapy in the school.
So, basically, their anti-bullying task force is being filled with bullies. School Board Chair Tom Heidemann says—and apparently with a straight face…no pun intended—the board is “firmly committed” to addressing bullying and harassment, and believes that Lindquist’s appointment will ensure that the task force reflects “very diverse points of view.”
That sounds nice, but then why reject Tammy Aaberg and Jefferson Fietek? Wouldn't they, along with Parent Action League bigot and homophobe, Lindquist, be the epitome of diversity? Apparently, Anoka-Hennepin School District believes that maintaining bullying and reinforcing stigmatization is an important perspective to have on an anti-bullying committee. And apparently they have no real desire to stop bullying, of any student, and feel no need to keep young people safe from harm.