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Sixth Bullied Student Sues Minnesota School District

Sixth Bullied Student Sues Minnesota School District

 

Embattled Minnesota school district Anoka-Hennepin is being sued by a sixth student over the district’s sexual orientation policy that lawyers argue prevents staff from addressing LGBT issues, and most seriously anti-LGBT bullying.

The lawsuit launched by the National Center for Lesbian Rights was filed in federal district court in Minneapolis on Wednesday on behalf of a lesbian student and is a companion case to Doe v. Anoka-Hennepin School District No. 11, a federal lawsuit previously reported here that on behalf of five other district students argues the district has, through virtue of its policies, facilitated and refused to combat anti-LGBT bullying to the point at which students have endured anti-LGBT slurs and physical threats if not assaults as part of a daily routine. What is more, the suit charges that when such incidents are reported to teachers or school officials there has been almost no action taken because school officials are tied by the gag policy — a policy the district continues to defend as being a neutral standpoint on alternative lifestyles.

More from the NCLR blog:

The sixth student, who is referred to by her initials of E.R. in the complaint because she is a minor, started attending Anoka-Hennepin’s Jackson Middle School in September 2010 after her family moved into the district. Beginning on her first day in school, she faced a constant, daily barrage of taunts from other students, who called her names like’“faggot,’ ‘dyke,’ ‘he/she,’ and ‘it.’ While she regularly reported the harassment to teachers and administrators, they did not protect her. A staff member once told E.R. that she had heard other staff talking about E.R. in the office, saying that they wished the school could ‘get rid of her.’

“This is yet another incredibly distressing example of how the district’s shameful policy has hurt kids,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “The district has to stop turning its back on children, and recognize that its illegal policy that singles out those who are LGBT is the reason that so many children in their schools continue to be tormented—verbally, physically, and emotionally—every day.”

The district has a unique policy relating to LGBT topics in that it instructs teachers to remain “neutral” on the subject of LGBTs, that is to say they cannot appear to affirm that being gay or trans is normal or acceptable, but at the same time should not be seen to condemn pupils. What this reasonable sounding policy has translated to, NCLR argues, is an abandoning of responsibility where LGBT children and anti-LGBT bullying is concerned.

The district has not commented on this most recent case, but said when the original lawsuit was filed in July that the district was disappointed the NCLR has chosen to pursue court action rather than working with the district to improve its bullying policies, though it again reiterated that it fully supports the sexual orientation curriculum policy as it stands.

The district is also currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department over complaints of pervasive harassment in the district’s schools. This follows at least seven young people in the district having  taken their own lives over the past two years, with a majority of those deaths attributed, at least in part, to bullying.

Related Reading:

Miami-Dade Schools Add LGBT Bullying Protections

Kids Say: Stop Bullying! It’s Not Cool! (VIDEO)

Stephen Colbert: It Gets Better! (VIDEO)

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Photo used under Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to John Steven Fernandez.

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67 comments

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1:55PM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

bullying is awful and is not acceptable. no one should be bullied because of their race, gender or sexual orientation.

7:45AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

As I have said before, you can have your own opinion on sexuality, but you the only option with bullying it's fighting it. I can't express with polite words what I think about the school this girl had to suffer.
I hope the students win the lawsuit.

7:57AM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

Well first you have to consider that the school district is in Bachmann's district! You can add to that the fact that Bachmann's district has the highest teen suicide rate in the US, if memory serves me right 9 or 10 just since January of 2011. Now mind you I have no idea if the Bachmann Snake Oil Clinic is actually in that district but considering that 'Pray the Gay Away' therapy proven to be practiced by the Bachmann clinic is totally discredited by all reputable Medical associations who also consider it as harmful and a potential cause of suicide, but I am just wondering. It just seems beyond coincidence that the nations highest teen suicide rate just happens to be where this school district is, Bachmann's home base is and the Bachmann clinic is. Just makes on wonder considering that 1+1+1=3.

5:33PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

I grew up in MN and was bullied throughout my years in school during the 60's and 70's. Tried fighting back and that only made things worse. Was spit upon, called names, had my head bashed into the concrete walls on many occasion, and was even pushed down a flight of concrete steps. Luckily I survived with just a few bruises. Where I lived I used to walk to the Jr. High School. Went through a period where a group of bullies would be waiting for me to harass or beat me up, so I had to then take a different, longer route each day home, hoping and praying the whole way that I would simply make it home safe. Many a time I wanted to simply quit and drop out of school...my grades suffered as well. Never went to a prom. No person should have to go through this. Somehow I made it through High School and graduated...just barely. This is why I feel for these kids.

I wish that I had someone to go to at that time but even now as you see that in this day and age doesn't do very much good. That's why I support these brave LGBT students who fortunately have not resorted to suicide, but have the courage to stand up, sue these schools and see this thing through hopefully to some successful conclusion that will bring some peace and closure to them. I wish the lesbian girl and the other 5 all the success during this process.

5:30AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:16PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others.
Later on Sex Education should be taught from Contraceptives, Masturbation,LGBT and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry and Algebra. They can learn this in college if need be. I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

11:44AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

This is ridiculous! WTF. I live in Florida which has its own share of stupid news but we protect our children. How dare they call themselves teachers when they can't lead by example and protect children coming to them with real problems.

8:25AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Wow, glad I don't live in that area. I wouldn't be sending my kids to that school!

7:42AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Turning a blind eye to bullying is not "neutral." A truly neutral policy would condemn bullying - including the slurs and threats which these students have been forced to endure - regardless of the cause behind it. Hard to believe the people in this district have failed to realise this.

8:29PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Bullies are knuckle dragging Low-Esteemers!

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