SPLC Demands Minnesota Address LGBT Harassment

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) put Minnesota’s largest school district on notice that if they did not take immediate steps to address the bullying and harassment commonly faced by LGBT students the district would face a federal lawsuit.

In a letter to Anoka-Hennepin School Superintendent Dennis L. Carlson, the groups said they were prepared to seek immediate remedy under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, Section 1983 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Among the issues the groups want addressed is for the district to repeal a gag policy that prevents teachers from discussing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  The policy “singles out a vulnerable and disfavored minority-LGBT students- and prevents teachers and other district employees from supporting, or even protecting those students within the classroom.”

The gag policy has come under intense scrutiny after several high school students in the district committed suicide as a result of relentless bullying.

The letter was issued after an investigation found that a pervasive atmosphere of hostility exists in the district.  One student, after reporting chronic harassment to authorities for over two years, was told to leave the school because the administration would not protect him.  Another student faced daily verbal and physical harassment at school because of the perception that she is a lesbian.  The district took no action and the student eventually dropped out of school and attempted suicide.

The district has been in denial for months about its need to remedy the hostile atmosphere perpetuated in its schools.  Sadly, student deaths were not enough to get the district to change course, but the possibility of a lawsuit and a large damage award may just be.  For the sake of the students and the community, I hope it is.


photo courtesy of BluEyedA73 via Flickr

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Bart V.
Bart V.4 years ago

Kudos to the SPLC. Additionally, this issue with Minnesota should receive as much international coverage as possible. Travel agents I'm aware of , both straight & gay; across the EU, are recommending non travel to the state, & others.

Ant m.
Ant m.4 years ago

noted ...

William Y.
William Y.4 years ago

Bullying is disgusting, no matter what the reason.

And Marilyn L. I agree with your statement "The moral right is anything but."

Jane H.
Jane H.4 years ago

Hooray for the SLPC and Morris Dees!!!! Many, many thanks to them.

William Grogan
William Grogan4 years ago

It's sad to read how low we adults seem to have fallen in this country. And we spread our hatreds and prejudices to children. The kids get away with it because the adults in their lives, both at home and in school, have apparently lost all moral guidance. Stories like this make me ashamed. I think, if left to the kids, the schools might run better and be more just and open minded. The adults in many of these bullying situations have just failed on all accounts!

Jim L.
Jim L.4 years ago

Go get 'em, Morris Dees!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.4 years ago

The moral right is anything but. What is going on in this school district disgust me and it is not only the school district's leaders it is also the parents of the bullies. What shameful bunch.

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik4 years ago

ISDs often ignore bullying because of hate - of race, religion & especially homosexual issues. I am not sure where we lost our ability to imagine ourselves in the situations of others - or when administrators decided that boys will be boys.
I grew up in a different era. Differences were often solved by a tussle after school. The participants often shook hands afterward. There was lighthearted teasing but I don't really remember any bullies at my school. I am not sure that we as a student body would have condoned anyone being really mean to anyone else. We would not have stood by while kids were robbed of lunch money or punched or beaten. It was a small town & everyone knew everyone. It was just unthinkable to act ugly.
Everyone needs to watch the SPLC film BULLIED. This is the kind of bullying this article addresses. SEE IF YOU THINK IT IS THE SAME AS BEING BULLIED FOR JUST ANY REASON.

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik4 years ago

So, why are we surprised when a school district fails to protect students from being bullied for being perceived as LGBTQ? We have whole legislators in other states passing bans on LGBT people & writing discrimination into their state constitutions; Denying equal rights to people because they are gay. So kids make the next logical supposition to figure these kids have no rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness either. The fact that these kids are 2nd class is further added to by their "oh so Christian Pastors" who tell them that homosexuality is a perversion & that the people who "practice it are going to hell" anyway. They hear their folks condemn GLBTQ people & make stupid jokes at their expense & watch as their role models bully others. Then we wonder at how kids can be so cruel?
I disagree that bullying is just bullying no matter what. Kids have always made fun of others - short peers, tall peers, fat peers, skinny peers, kids with glasses, freckles & those who talk funny, braces - short people grow; kids sometimes get as tall; fat kids loose weight; skinny kids can gain weight; freckles can be "in"; contacts gotten & braces come off - ugly ducklings turn into swans - But if a kid is bullied because they are a particular race or religion or a sexual orientation that is different. Because most of the time, unlike just making fun of someone different - race, religion & sexual preference is practiced as HATE. (cont)

Barbara W.
Barbara W.4 years ago

It is great that this is coming to the surface, although so unfortunate that it has taken lost lives to do it. School districts and PARENTS are to blame. When my son was bullied due to a physical disability, the bully was sent back to class and my son was sent to the counselor. I'm wondering if it is any different now in our district.