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Breaking: Minnesota School District Drops Anti-LGBT Policy

Breaking: Minnesota School District Drops Anti-LGBT Policy

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If you’ve been following Care2’s coverage of Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district, its LGBT policy and its a wave of student suicides, you’ll be thrilled to read this news.

The Anoka-Hennepin School Board voted on Monday to repeal a long-held policy that prohibits discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the classroom and replaced it with a policy that directs district staff to “affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students,” including those who are LGBT.

No More “Neutrality” Policy

The district, Minnesota’s largest, whose schools mostly fall in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s congressional district, has been at the center of a raging controversy, and under investigation by the federal Department of Education’s office for civil rights since 2010.

The so-called “neutrality” policy was created in 2009, and meant that teachers had to remain neutral if issues of sexual identity came up in class. It had its roots in a 1995 program colloquially called “no promo homo,” which was created by conservative Christian parents with ties to the Minnesota Family Council.

This policy plainly stated:

[H]omosexuality [will] not be taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle and that the district staff and their resources not advocate the homosexual lifestyle.

New Policy: Respectful Learning Environment-Curriculum

On Monday the board replaced this policy, blamed for contributing to a school culture that led to the bullying, and eventually the suicides, of several gay students, with one that promotes “a respectful learning environment in which teachers facilitate student discussions of contentious topics in a balanced and impartial manner,” the school district said.

The new policy, called the Respectful Learning Environment-Curriculum policy is intended to establish the dignity and self-worth of all students.

From Education Week:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which sued the district over its old policy last July, applauded the new policy in a statement.

“Today is the first day in nearly 18 years that Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District no longer has a harmful policy that singles out lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. Although we would have preferred for the District to have repealed this stigmatizing policy without replacing it, we are pleased that the new policy expressly requires district staff to affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students, including LGBT students,” it read.

But the new policy faces potential challenges. The Parents Action League, formed in support of the old policy, had asked the school board to provide the same level of support to Christian and “ex-homosexual” students as it does to gay students, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

“I am not as confident as the board that this policy will prevent homosexual propaganda from flooding the classrooms,” the group’s president, Laurie Thompson, said, calling the policy vote “a big disappointment.”

Parents Action League May Sue

Apparently the Parents Action League is waiting for the district to respond before deciding whether to sue. So the story may not be over yet but, meanwhile, thank you to the Anoka-Hennepin School Board for making this decision.

Related Stories

Is “Affirmation” Enough To Prevent Gay Teen Suicides?

Teachers Against District’s ‘Controversial’ Topics Ban

Anoka-Hennepin School District Sued Over Anti-LGBT Bullying

Nine Suicides In One Year But Not Our Fault, Says School District

 

 

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Photo Credit: istock

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56 comments

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10:33AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Sad it took so many years and so much suffering before the school district realized humanity comes before discrimination. Glad to see they changed their policy towards support. And also pleased there are only 8 trolls on this thread.

11:32AM PST on Feb 25, 2012

thanks for the article

4:02AM PST on Feb 18, 2012

I am sure this will make a big difference. The big tragedy was that it took so long and is so late in undoing this poor policy.

11:33PM PST on Feb 17, 2012

At last....one state down, how many more to go?

6:23PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Makes me want to cry that it's a huge breakthrough in 2012 to “affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students.” Way overdue.


5:48PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Woo-Hoo! Alright! Being from that area of Minnesota, I'm so happy to hear this! Sure wish I had resources available to me back when I was being bullied throughout my years in school. Glad to hear this! Thank-you Anoka-Hennepin school district for doing the right thing!

8:23AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Finally the bravery to abide by the laws letter, if not spirit.

7:32AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

IT IS GOOD NEWS !!!!

6:31AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Wow, and it only took how many dead children before they may have pulled their heads out of the homophobic asses!

5:03AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Thanks for the article.

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