Five bullied students from Minnesota who won their challenge against the Anoka-Hennepin School District have a special message: It DOES Get Better.
Earlier this month, an agreement was reached to resolve two federal gender and sexual orientation harassment lawsuits brought against Anoka-Hennepin by six students. The agreement includes significant new protections designed to prevent harassment of students who are or perceived to be LGBT and gender non-conforming, as well as those who have friends or parents who are LGBT.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which sued on behalf of students, reports that under the decree, the students will receive a total of $270,000 in damages.
The district’s 18-year-old gag policy on sexual orientation was replaced last month with a policy designed to generate “a respectful learning environment in which teachers facilitate student discussions of contentious topics in a balanced and impartial manner.”
The District has faced national scrutiny because of a wave of teen suicides in the area, many of them at least partly related to bullying.
The Trevor Project, a leading charity on bullying of LGBT students, has described the successful lawsuit as “a historic paradigm shift” that will “create a blueprint for school safety that can be implemented nationwide.”
One of the students in the ‘It Gets Better’ video, Kyle Rooker, who had been called ‘fag’, slapped and urinated on, told local news:
“Basically, they ripped my heart out….I didn’t feel like someone with passion. Now I’ve stolen it back.”
The remaining plaintiff student, Ebonie Richardson, made a separate video.
Watch ‘MN’s Anoka-Hennepin Student Plaintiffs: It Gets Better’: