Anoka-Hennepin School District's Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy

Currently, the Anoka-Hennepin School District (AHSD) in MN is under fire in relationship to eight suicides in the district over the last two years. Critics say they have not done enough to prevent the anti-gay bullying and harassment that often precedes despair and depression for kids who are same-sex attracted and those who are perceived to be.

The AHSD added a page on GLBT issues to their website recently. The district neutrality policy is at the center of the controversy with some parents wanting to allow teachers to discuss sexual orientation and others wanting to keep the policy as is. For our consideration, here is the policy in full:

604.11

SEXUAL ORIENTATION CURRICULUM POLICY

It is the primary mission of the Anoka-Hennepin School District to effectively educate each of our students for success.  District policies shall comply with state and federal law as well as reflect community standards.  As set forth in the Equal Education Opportunity Policy, it is the School District’s policy to provide equal educational opportunity and to prohibit harassment of all students.  The Board is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment and to provide an education that respects the beliefs of all students and families.    

The School District employs a diverse and talented staff committed to serving students and families from diverse backgrounds.  The School District acknowledges that one aspect of that diversity regards sexual orientation.  Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.   Anoka-Hennepin staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation including but not limited to student led discussions.  If and when staff address sexual orientation, it is important that staff do so in a respectful manner that is age-appropriate, factual, and pertinent to the relevant curriculum.  Staff are encouraged to take into consideration individual student needs and refer students to the appropriate social worker or licensed school counselor.

Anoka-Hennepin District No. 11

Coon Rapids, MN 55433

Adopted February 9, 2009

What does neutral mean in the context of this policy? Can teachers supply information about false and stereotypical claims?

If a student says, all Christians are haters; or unscientific. A teacher, no matter what his or her feelings about Christianity could point out the overgeneralization and ask, “What about Mother Teresa?” or “What about Francis Collins?” One could safely point to examples which address the error in logic without giving the impression that the school favors Christianity over other religions.

However, if a student says in class that gays are mentally ill, or choose their orientation or are all miserable people who should change in order to be happy (Parents Action League talking points), what could a teacher say in response? I think the ambiguity of the policy would make teachers worry that they are going to violate the policy just by responding factually.

It appears that the AHSD is making some strides to providing staff training as indicated by this staff training outline. However, if teachers are unable to correct fact errors or stereotypes directly, how will this training benefit students?

I have some of the sharpest readers around, so I am wondering what you think of the policy and what would you recommend to the AHSD?

  • M. Worrell

    I really do not think the teacher should say anything. Why do they need to respond to or correct the kid’s misconceptions on the spot? Can’t they just insist on a level of consideration for others that makes such remarks inappropriate for the classroom? Then take it up with the parents if required? I just think it’s a huge mistake to place teachers in the role of parenting or trying to correct the biases of the students. If a child from an irreligious household wants to believe that Christianity is dangerous or damaging, or that homosexuality (or a love for professional wrestling) is a sign of mental illness, is that really up to the school to address?

    If a student insists on telling their fellow students that they are going to burn in hell forever, I don’t think the teacher should be insisting that they won’t. The teacher should just ask the student to discontinue making upsetting remarks out of simple politeness. Micromanaging the brains of kids just does not make sense to me.

    No name calling, no hitting, no teasing, of any sort. Period. I don’t see the difficulty with that, except that it is completely free from agendas of any kind.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    In a bullying situation, M. Worrell, you would be of some value but not to the degree necessary. You might say for a student to stop making disparaging remarks, but you would not support the bullied student.

    Furthermore, the school is a place to learn facts. It is a fact that all mental health groups believe homosexuality not to be mental disorder. With your approach, political concerns about the matter keep kids from hearing facts. You may not like those facts but you are advocating keeping facts from kids. Strange move for a school.

  • M. Worrell

    I believe the bullied student (and the teacher, honestly) can be better protected and supported in the context of every student having the unassailable right to attend school without feeling in any way unsafe. There is no room for a value judgment of any kind to impact that right one way or another. Every student should own it and be encouraged to count on it.

    In terms of keeping facts from students, yes, I think that’s absolutely appropriate at times. Not all facts are appropriate to discuss as part of a public school education, and certainly not in every grade. Do we want to discuss certain objective facts about Mohammed in an 8th grade classroom where, say, a couple of Muslim students are in attendance? I don’t think so. It would be offensive, and it would actually make those particular students feel attacked and unsafe.

    Regardless, a presentation of objective facts will not eliminate bullying.

    Case in point: obese kids. Obese kids are, in fact, fat. They are probably unhealthy, and their obesity may even be a result of faulty thinking or even mental illness (compulsive eating, etc.). It doesn’t matter. They are entitled to attend school without being bullied no matter what the issue is. No one has to be convinced that being fat is good in order to assert that message.

    Teaching kids that a knowledge of the proper facts about a person is what disqualifies them from bullying sends the wrong message. Either bullying is acceptable or it isn’t. I just think that’s a more appropriate standard to observe, and it eliminates the need for teachers to wade into deep waters as it relates to theology or even the most recent scientific facts related to human sexuality. Nor will they have to tiptoe around the boundaries of what should or shouldn’t be said.

    Most public school teachers are frankly not qualified to speak authoritatively on matters of personal conviction and belief. They shouldn’t need to be, in my view.

  • Ken

    To be clear the policy as worded is not that problematic. It does in fact acknowledge that teachers can (and likely will) deal with issues of sexual orientation:

    If and when staff address sexual orientation, it is important that staff do so in a respectful manner that is age-appropriate, factual, and pertinent to the relevant curriculum.

    Although the policy indicates the authors’ lack of understanding about sexual orientation because:

    Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum;

    would mean there is no sex education in the curriculum or it is a very poor program.

    However, from what I’ve been reading the implementation of this policy is the problem. The SPLC and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) lawsuit shows how the implementation of the policy is anything but “neutral.”

    (I have a pdf copy as well, but I forgot where I got it from, if anyone wants it let me know and I’ll dig up the link to the pdf).

  • Ken

    M. Worrell# ~ Sep 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    “Do we want to discuss certain objective facts about Mohammed in an 8th grade classroom where, say, a couple of Muslim students are in attendance?”

    If the christian students were spreading false information about Mohammed and islam, and upsetting (or even threatening) the muslim students then yes, I would want the teacher to correct that false information with accurate information. And I’m sure the muslim students would appreciate it as well. Now, that doesn’t mean the teacher has to give an entire history of islam, just correct the false information being used to hurt other students.

    And I suspect that what you, M. Worrel, think you know about Mohammed is probably about as accurate as what PAL knows about homosexuality.

  • Michael Christoph

    The primary function of a school is, of course, education. Beyond that, schools are a social training ground to prepare students to be productive members of a larger community. It IS the schools responsibility to teach tolerance and acceptance. The current “neutrality” policy denies the school’s faculty the ability to be supportive of LGBT students who are facing harassement and, in essence, that reinforces a bully’s intolerance. Also note that this policy is not universally neutral.

    Just because Jane is jewish, she is no less than you. Just because Roger is in a wheelchair, he is no less than you. Just because Aaron is black, he is no less than you. Just because Lindsay is gay…. well, just stop hitting her.

  • M. Worrell

    Ken# ~ Sep 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Ken, I think you’re assuming a few things that are not reliably true:

    1) That teachers know enough objective factual information on subjects outside their area of concentration to competently correct a student’s assertions. In some cases they might, but as a parent who has on several occasions had to correct my daughter’s teachers’ false assertions about Christianity and other topics, my level of confidence is low. This isn’t a slam against teachers… why should they be expected to do such a thing?

    2) That only false information is offensive. I can assure you that liberals, conservatives, gays and lesbians, Christians, Muslims, and nearly everyone else on planet earth is less than appreciative of the unadorned facts being presented to their kids by a third party.

    3) I’m not an expert on homosexuality or Mohammed, but I was an Art Education major. Be glad that had I gone on to teach in the public schools, I would be teaching art, not theology or human sexuality.

    I’m attempting to step out of the combat zone and say, “How can we protect every child without making moral value judgments or decisions about levels of exposure to facts that parents are better able (and entitled) to navigate?”

    Everyone… I mean EVERYONE… loves to steer public school policy, and everyone has an agenda. So let’s just accept that and try to focus on the basics. One basic is that every kid… ugly, fat, gay, skinny, Christian, atheist, brilliant… whatever. They all deserve to be safe from bullying, and they don’t have to agree with their teacher.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    I think we may be missing some key information here. The School District’s GLBT page that Dr. Throckmorton references has two importaqnt links on it .. the one points to the teacher’s union brochure (see here). The other is referred to at the bottom of the web page but I had to search to find it .. It is a presentation given to the staff in August of 2010 that gives basic instruction concerning how to deal with harassment with regards to Sexual Oreintation. That presentation is entitled: Sexual orientation and harassment presentation (see link ). HTe school presentation refers back to the union’s brochure as a resource .. so much more information is being shared and a more detailed plan of action is happening then we might assume. You may want to review both of these documents before commenting further.

    Dave

  • Ken

    M. Worrell# ~ Sep 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    “1) That teachers know enough objective factual information on subjects outside their area of concentration to competently correct a student’s assertions.”

    When students are being harassed into failing grades, dropping out of school and even suicide, I think it would be more than appropriate for teachers to get the facts on how to help these students. Even if it isn’t their area of concentration.

    “2) That only false information is offensive. ”

    I made no such assumption. However, I know that the offensive things PAL (and others) are putting out about glbt people IS false.

    “I’m attempting to step out of the combat zone and say, “How can we protect every child without making moral value judgments or decisions about levels of exposure to facts that parents are better able (and entitled) to navigate?” ”

    and what are these “facts” that parents are “better able to navigate”? I’d like to hear the specifics of what you are talking about.

    Do you think the parents in PAL, know the facts about sexual orientation?

  • M. Worrell

    Ken# ~ Sep 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    “When students are being harassed into failing grades, dropping out of school and even suicide”… Ken, when a kid is experiencing issues significant enough to impact their well being, I think the issue has moved beyond what a teacher should be expected to deal with. As far back as the early eighties when I was in middle school, a kid was being harassed on a daily basis by another student with sexual remarks (referencing homosexual oral sex, as a matter of fact). Eventually the teasing took on a life of its own with other kids. The entire school was called into the gym, a zero tolerance policy for hazing was outlined to every kid in a very serious manner, the worst offenders were suspended, and it faded from view within a week. The practice of gay oral sex did not need to be defended or maligned, nor did the argument need to be reframed the next week for a new circumstance. The message was clear and universal.

    In terms of which facts, you can’t mandate that with rigid rules. That’s part of a conversation with the community. But in general, controversial topics ought to be handled with a diplomacy that favors respecting the rights of parents to teach values, whether I agree with those values or not. Maybe they should have programs that educate interested parents if the issue is of great concern in the community.

  • ken

    M. Worrell# ~ Sep 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    “In terms of which facts, you can’t mandate that with rigid rules. That’s part of a conversation with the community. But in general, controversial topics ought to be handled with a diplomacy that favors respecting the rights of parents to teach values, whether I agree with those values or not.”

    Facts are not the same as values. I was asking about facts. However, if you want to discuss values, then lets take this example. what if it is the parents belief (values) that blacks are an inferior race, and whites should not associate with them. Do you believe it is wrong for teachers to educate children with the FACTS about race relations, racial distinctions, the history of racism because SOME parents values conflict with that? And what if it is the majority of the parents in the district that feel this way about blacks? does that matter?

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Again .. in terms of Warren’s initial post .. I think it would be good to see what the school is actually saying … I give two links (here and here) to this in my post at 3:57 PM. The school is gong well beyond not giving any direction but appears to be avoiding any moral instruction. I also found some of the NEA information referred to in the one document to be informative.

    Dave

  • Mary

    Between keeping my job and causing trouble – I would not say a thing. If a child came to me in confidence I would guide them towards making a decision as to how they wanted to handle it and guide them towards a school counselor because they are probably not the only one who has this issue.

  • M. Worrell

    ken# ~ Sep 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Ken, perhaps we simply do not share a belief in the dispassionate nature of facts. Facts that are absolutely true can be shared selectively, thus promoting a bias or even a false conclusion. I know this from experience in dealing with public school teachers who have an agenda that they’ve wanted to aim at my kids.

    In the case of racism, I could not care less what people believe in their own homes. I personally cannot even get my head around the concept of hating an individual based on skin color (or anything else), so I have zero sympathy for racist views. They are morally repugnant. But I do not believe that the schools are charged with righting every wrong point of view. In my community, kids get a hefty dose of teaching on civil rights and the holocaust, which I completely support and reinforce at home. But that’s what we decide as a community.

  • ken

    M. Worrell# ~ Sep 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    “Ken, perhaps we simply do not share a belief in the dispassionate nature of facts. Facts that are absolutely true can be shared selectively, thus promoting a bias or even a false conclusion. ”

    That is incorrect. I am very much aware of how facts can be juxtaposed to mislead and deceive. However, I also know that open and honest discussion will expose that deception. And will also expose misleading claims, falsehoods and outright lies. And I’m aware that that sort of honest discussion is exactly what PAL and friends are trying to stop. PAL spreads falsehoods, and I suspect outright lies, and then doesn’t want schools to have an honest discussion about the issues.

    But you, and PAL and friends, don’t want to discuss the real issues. Instead you want to avoid it by bringing up fat kids, because you don’t want to face the reality that attitudes like yours are what contribute to glbt teens dropping out of school, suffering attacks, and in extreme cases committing suicide.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Inserting parenthetically, as I don’t wish to de-rail….

    There’s nothing about Intersex kids. Who have the same problems with gender nonconformance, suicide rate, death rate from assault etc. Too embarassing, I guess. Biology is taught poorly in the USA, and I conjecture that’s because of the influence of Creationists and others, to whom concepts like hermaphroditism in animal species are seen as dangerous, against family values, and must be suppressed.

    Back to our original programming.

    Things which it is NOT forbidden to do:

    Tell the Gay child they’re going to burn in Hell.

    Refer the child to a “Christian Counsellor” who uses Reparative Therapy, and even Aversion Therapy.

    While the intentions of those policies are good, the record shows that those implementing them cannot be trusted to act in good faith.

  • StraightGrandmother

    M. Worrel

    In terms of which facts, you can’t mandate that with rigid rules. That’s part of a conversation with the community. But in general, controversial topics ought to be handled with a diplomacy that favors respecting the rights of parents to teach values, whether I agree with those values or not.

    But isn’t the reason sexual minorities are “controversial” (to use your word) is because we have not properly educated our youth that homosexuality (or bi sexuality) is on the normal scale of human sexuality? They are just a minority is all. Exactly in the same way as other minorities. Aren’t we obligate to teach science, true science and hard science says that there is nothing wrong with people who are attracted to others of their same sex.

    We taught generations of white kids that people who are black are not intellectually inferior, which was a belief that most of their parents strongly held. Through public education we turned predjudice into repect. So no, I do not agree that education has to kowtow to parents who’s beliefs reguarding people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender or intersex are that these people are not equal to any other human being. In public eduction we teach science, let the families teach what they want in their own homes, but in school the students learn the truth. I guess what I am saying is that teaching science trumps teaching values. So when bullying takes place I want the teacher to say, “Being gay is normal, and we don’t allow that language you used here in our school” Because that statement is the truth, and it affirms the gay child.

    Since when do we not teach science in our schools and just stand by mum? In order to refute my comment you will have to show me credible science that states being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or intersex is NOT normal.

  • Frank

    M Worrell writes:

    “In terms of which facts, you can’t mandate that with rigid rules. That’s part of a conversation with the community. But in general, controversial topics ought to be handled with a diplomacy that favors respecting the rights of parents to teach values, whether I agree with those values or not.”

    Tough titty, baby. You have the legal option to keep your kids ignorant of these issues through private schooling. You have no “right” to do so because your offspring has legal rights of his or her own. You do not have the right to keep other students ignorant; in fact, if you do so you do so to the extent that you prevent the formation of a GSA at a public school, you should be sued for denying gay students their civil rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech.

  • Frank

    M Worrell writes:

    “Ken, when a kid is experiencing issues significant enough to impact their well being, I think the issue has moved beyond what a teacher should be expected to deal with. As far back as the early eighties when I was in middle school, a kid was being harassed on a daily basis by another student with sexual remarks (referencing homosexual oral sex, as a matter of fact). Eventually the teasing took on a life of its own with other kids. The entire school was called into the gym, a zero tolerance policy for hazing was outlined to every kid in a very serious manner, the worst offenders were suspended, and it faded from view within a week. The practice of gay oral sex did not need to be defended or maligned, nor did the argument need to be reframed the next week for a new circumstance. The message was clear and universal.

    implicit in your framing of this issue is your acceptance for the motive for the hazing, that heterosexuals have the right to make lewd, perverted statements about the imagined sexual activities of gay people. That student who seemed to be gay probably had never had sex, yet you, an alleged adult, assume that the only basis anyone could think of for specifically defending him is his supposed sex life. Your attitude is perverted.

  • M. Worrell

    Wow, is there a lot of projecting and defensiveness going on in this discussion. I can assure you that I do not believe it is acceptable to ridicule or intimidate another human being for any reason. Nor do I think the sort of name calling and labeling that some of you engage in is useful or healthy.

    There’s simply no bridging the gap here, I’m afraid. I think we can fully protect kids while respecting traditional belief and opinions. Others do not, apparently. Knock yourselves out… that’s your right, and I respect it.

  • ken

    M. Worrell# ~ Sep 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    “I think we can fully protect kids while respecting traditional belief and opinions. Others do not, apparently. ”

    The reality of what has been happening in the Anoka-Hennepin School District (and far to many other places) would indicate you are wrong. Because those “traditional beliefs and opinions” are based on prejudice, misinformation and out-right lies.

  • StraightGrandmother

    @Frank – “Tough titty,baby”

    StraightGrandmother- LMSAO (Laughing my straight a** off)!!!!!

    @M Worrel-Yeah I notice how you run away from my comments. Why don’t you come back and show me your hard science that says being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, or intersex (sexual minorities) is NOT on the Normal Scale of Human Sexuality?

    Instead of running away come back and stand by your point of view and refute my point of view to the best of your ability. Since when do we in Public Education stand mum about minorities, and NOT affirm that they are NORMAL human beings just as normal at the people who bully them? What you are suggesting is Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in our Public Schools.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    M.Worrel wrote:

    I think we can fully protect kids while respecting traditional belief and opinions.

    Proof that that’s not the case :

    http://wishididntknow.com/2011/05/25/controversy-over-elementary-school-use-of-transgender-clownfish-to-teach-gender-diversity/

    I’m Intersex. So is my son. Our existence, not our behaviour, but the fact that we even exist is “against traditional family values”. So that fact must be suppressed. And hence, so must Intersex children.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Note to several commentators on this thread .. .. It’s not my blog but it would be nice if we actually addressed what was happening with this district. I perused several of the links Warren gave in his original post and I was really looking forward to hearing other people’s opinions on them. Since schools will .. unfortunately .. always be a battleground for different groups who want their particular position to be represented I was interested in hearing whether some of you folks thought their brochures taht I linked to earlier were adequate. Also .. .. though I find M. Worell’s comments to be IMO a bit naive … I do not find them as hostile as some of you seem to think they are nor have I read into them what some of you have. I may be proven wrong on this as this discussion continues (assuming it does) but presently I sense IMHO a bit of over reaction to some of what he has said.

    Note to M. Worrell .. I don’t know what era you are thinking of but schools have changed alot since the 70′s when I went to school .. a time when they turned more of a blind eye to bullying. My children went to school in the late 80′s thru 2008 and schools are much more up on addressing issues of bullying .. far beyond just letting the parents deal with it. So .. IMO it seems that a lot more could be said to students than what you are expressing here. Schools do more than just give a scholarly education. They help prepare students to live and contribute in a world of multiple cultural contexts and multiple political and moral positions. I believe it is certainly possible to educate people on valuing people of different cultures and/or mindsets and still maintain an atmosphere where the student can make up their own mind on a particular issue. This IMO requires a lot more than saying nothing. I would be interested in hearing your opinion on whether this district’s reference materials that I linked to earlier over-stepped the line of neutrality that you seem to be concerned about.

    Finally .. I would note that Dr Throckmorton states the following at the end of his post: I have some of the sharpest readers around, so I am wondering what you think of the policy and what would you recommend to the AHSD?

    In light of what AHSD has shared on its website I would love to hear your views on this very thing..

    Blessings,

    Dave

  • William

    As a former teacher myself, I would say that what we should tell children is that LGBT people are just people, that they are just as good as everyone else, and that they have exactly the same right as everyone else to be treated decently. Some children may not like this principle or agree with it, and some of their parents may not either, and we can’t make them. But they don’t have to; they just have to behave in accordance with it.

  • Jayhuck

    William,

    As a former teacher myself, I would say that what we should tell children is that LGBT people are just people, that they are just as good as everyone else, and that they have exactly the same right as everyone else to be treated decently. Some children may not like this principle or agree with it, and some of their parents may not either, and we can’t make them. But they don’t have to; they just have to behave in accordance with it.

    AMEN! Dave, this is what should be taught. Its not advancing any agenda and it echoes sentiments readily found in the Bible.

  • StraightGrandmother

    okay Dave without naming names I think you might have been pointing to me, so I guess I am guilty of not being on my best behaviour. With that said, it is frustrating to converse with people, I take the time to directly quote them, provide a different point of view and then rather than respond to my points (as I responded to theirs) they run away. “Let’s just agree to disagree, buh-bye” Basiclly saying well we re the majority and we want it OUR way so I just won’t discuss it any further. Yes It is frustrating.

    I do try to write diplomatically like you do at the start of the conversation but I seem to get frustrated much sooner than you. And my nature is to be more blunt so that is how my writing is also, but I do try. Okay back to what you wanted feedback on. As soon as you posted the links to this school districts policies I went and read every word you linked to. Basically everything seems to be real good until you notice what is not there. What is not there is any affirmation for the sexual minority child. All the policies say is “We don’t allow that language here” There are different ways for the teacher to say it, but basically this is all they are permitted to do. They are not permitted to say why the bully is wrong, the reason being it is okay to be gay. gain similarities to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell but for Teachers in Public Schools. Basically we just are not going to talk about it, DADT.

  • http://www.comingou4christians.net Dave

    No..SG .. I was not singliing you out .. I was a bit frustrated that we were not refering to the material at hand which goes way beyond saying nothing… to be clear here is a rather large excerpt from the Teachers Union book …

    Anti-GLBT language

    The use of anti-GLBT slurs is a form of verbal bullying that should not be

    tolerated in our schools. This includes such terms as:

    • Fag or faggot

    • Homo

    • Dyke

    • Sissy

    • Lesbo

    • Queer (when the intent is negative)

    • Joto (Spanish)

    • Maricon (Spanish)

    • Fairy

    • Ladies (when used to berate males, often in an athletic context)

    “That’s so gay!”

    The incorrect use of the word “gay” as a synonym for “stupid” is pervasive in schools. One recent study found that nearly nine in 10 students reported hearing “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” frequentlyor often. When students are allowed to use this word incorrectly, it further harms GLBT students and perpetuates the myth that there is something wrong with being gay.

    What can you do?

    • Confront students when they use “gay” incorrectly in a classroom or other school setting.

    Remaining silent is tantamount to affirming that it is acceptable to believe that GLBT people are stupid and/or bad.

    • Small interventions can be effective.

    Memorize a short response: “You used the word ‘gay’ incorrectly in place of the word ‘stupid’ or ‘bad.’ When you do this you are hurting gay people in our school by making them feel unsafe. I don’t want you to use this word incorrectly.”

    • If possible, personalize the word “gay” with a short addition.

    “In fact, my (friend, sister, colleague, etc.) is gay and I want them to feel safe and welcome.”

    • Sometimes a more authoritative response is needed.

    “You and your family may believe certain things and you have a right to express that in your own home. I am not telling you how to act or believe outside of school. However, in this place we are required to welcome all people and to make them feel safe. We will not tolerate your language here.”

    Suicide awareness and prevention

    Suicide is the leading cause of death among GLBT youth, and GLBT adults also have high rates of depression and suicide. The warning signs include:

    • Lack of interest in friends, family, social activities

    • Poor performance in school or on the job

    • Increased alcohol or drug use

    • Sleeping too much or too little

    • Boredom, restlessness, irritability, or loss of concentration or memory

    • Giving away prized possessions

    • Talking of death or suicide

    • Expressing feelings of sadness, hopelessness or worthlessness

    • Saying things like “No one cares,” “Life isn’t worthwhile,” “People would be better off without me,” or “I don’t need this any more.”

    Keep in mind that these signs may also be signs of depression. Depressed people may not necessarily be contemplating suicide, but attention is still warranted.

    What do you do if you think someone might be suicidal?

    • Talk openly and ask direct questions about the person’s intention.

    • Listen carefully to what is said and treat it seriously.

    • Do not add to the person’s distress by debating, arguing or lecturing about whether suicide is right or wrong.

    • Don’t leave a suicidal person alone.

    • Encourage the person to seek help.

    • Get help immediately and contact your administrator.

    Supporting GLBT students and staff

    If a GLBT student or staff member approaches you with a problem, you can help by listening, respecting his or her confidentiality, and referring the person to counselors and other appropriate resources. Unless you are a counselor, you should not provide counseling yourself. You also should not meet with students alone and behind closed doors to avoid being accused of impropriety.

    Here are some tips:

    • Listen carefully. Let the person tell the full story before you respond.

    • Reassure the person of your acceptance and respect. Offer support and encouragement.

    • Keep the conversation confidential. Don’t tell others that someone has “come out” to you unless there is an urgent reason. Let the student’s or colleague’s wishes be your guide.

    • If a student’s safety is in jeopardy and you must inform others, limit sharing information to the necessary individuals (such as the principal, who may discuss the situation with a parent) and the necessary facts. For example, say, “Sue is being threatened with antigay remarks” – not, “Sue told me she is a lesbian.”

    • If a student’s parents must be notified, coordinate with your principal to proceed cautiously. Some parents may react angrily to news of a child’s sexual orientation, even kicking him or her out of the house.

    • If possible, talk with the student first to work out strategies. Do not blindside students by telling family members without their knowledge.

    • Refer the person to sources of support within the school district, as well as outside support groups.

    • Check in often with your student or colleague, and watch for emotional issues that may arise after “coming out.” Sexual identity development can last for years, moving through stages of awareness, acceptance and integration.

    • Monitor your own reactions. It is not uncommon to feel conflicted, surprised, worried or distant when a close contact raises these issues.

    The brochure also lists outside groups as resources. It seems that the aboe convers the various ways students might be bullied .. including what typical words are used in namecalling .. It calls for active intervention by the teacher when they hear such words .. and especially focuses on the popular “Thats so gay” language with several ways for the teacher to respond regardless of whater the comment is directed at a particular student. It discusses suicide and how to recognize some signs that a student is contemplating suicide along with intervention advice. What I assume you are calling DADT seems to me to be a respect for the student’s privacy and warnings against outing the student without their permission. It also warns that outing a student to their parent(s) can be dangerous for the student. I thought it was rather thorough. I don’t see the problems that you are seeing.

    Dave

  • A-H Teacher

    Dave, I don’t believe the district has shared as much with staff as it would like people to believe. Much of what is on their list of actions are overstated or were ineffective.

    It is interesting that the best information seems to come from the union’s piece – not from district staff development. Two years ago, union members formally asked the school board for more training. The local union put out that piece to staff in response to a lack of response to that request, and in part to show the district that they didn’t need to be fear of backlash if they addressed LGBT topics head on.

    The staff development outlined on the district’s page doesn’t make it clear that much of their training was only for guidance counselors or student learning advocates – not for all teachers, much less all staff that work with students. Elementary teachers received virtually none of the training on that list, despite requesting they be included.

    There has been some progress this year. At the beginning of this school year, all district teachers saw a half hour presentation on what the policy does and doesn’t mean according to district administration that was followed by a discussion and place to gather staff reaction. The presentation was in a FAQ format, many of the questions were submitted last November by the teachers’ union. The answers seemed pretty reasonable, however, teachers responded that they wanted more discussion. They plan to do that during their next staff development day.

    So, Dave, the district has been reluctant to discuss this matter openly until this year after significant pressure from the lawsuits, community groups, and the teachers’ union. That lack of communication is at the heart of the problems out there.

    • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

      Good to know. Has this been reported anywhere, A-H Teacher?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Dave for example I have problem with this

    Memorize a short response: “You used the word ‘gay’ incorrectly in place of the word ‘stupid’ or ‘bad.’ When you do this you are hurting gay people in our school by making them feel unsafe. I don’t want you to use this word incorrectly.”

    My problem is that nowhere in the instructions is the sexual minority child affirmed. We only say, “You are making them feel unsafe” Let’s do a word substituition with other minorities.

    “When you use the word Ni**er you are making black students feel unsafe”

    “When you use the word Kike, you are making students of the Jewish Faith feel unsafe”

    “When you use the word Rag Head, you are making Muslim students feel unsafe”

    Now is that sufficient enough for a teacher to reprimand a bully by saying simply that the slur is making someone unsafe and that is not permitted in school?

    Of course our textbooks highlight the accomplishments of persons of color, Jews, and Muslims and many other minorities yes we are all multicultural well except well for the sexual minorities. I have seen textbooks that show Johnny being raised by his grandmother, just the many different formulations of families that exist nowdays, everything except that which we must not speak about, the child who has two mothers or two fathers. See other minorites get validated right in the textbooks, sexual minrities do not, and not only do they never see a picture of a family like theirs but the teachers must never publiclly say that it is okay to be gay. They are jsut told, to say that students may not use gay slurs. For me Dave it is not enough. I would like to see the uproar if all the textbooks removed all non whites and all pictures of families other than a nuclear family. Then you would understand I think. Sexual minorities are not affirmed in any textbook nor by their teachers.

  • http://www.comingou4christians.net Dave

    SG …

    I don’t know that textbooks today highlight the achievements of Muslims .. if they do at all (which I kind of doubt) it would certanly not be to the level of say .. Martin Luther King.

    Even with someone like Martin Luther King I am guessing it was probably quite a few years later that textbooks caught up with what he did in the 60′s. My point is that while civil rights were going on in this area our country was in a period of change over the issue. Even when the civil rights laws were passed in this area the country had considerable catching up to do .. some might say we are still catching up.

    Similarly .. gay rights are still moving forward .. though we might consider Stonewall and Harvey Milk (for example) to be some key events/ players. But there is a ways to go … groups such as PAL would likely still oppose what you want. ENDA has not passed yet. But DADT will be over tomorrow. Indeed it is possible that in comparison to the civil rights of the 60′s, schools (or this schoool) might be considered to be slightly ahead of the issue since they are recognizing the personhood of people who are gay .. and are actively opposing name calling and phrases that are derogatory. I don’t have any exact facts to back up this comparison .. just my own memories from that era. The country is going through a time of change just as it was then … until that change is complete .. everything may not be perfectly the way you may want it to be.

    Dave

  • ken

    Dave# ~ Sep 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    And here are some excerpts from the lawsuit that was filed:

    Teachers have understood the SOCP as inhibiting them from aggressively responding to anti-gay harassment, inside or outside the classroom. The gag policy also prohibits school staff from countering anti-gay stereotypes or presenting basic factual information about LGBT people, even when necessary to address anti-gay hostility within the student body. For example, pursuant to District guidance, the SOCP prohibits staff from even mentioning the fact that it is the position of the American Psychological Association that being gay is not a choice

    (pp. 5-6)

    Students also regularly pushed Jane in the hallways, and shoved her into lockers or against walls, sometimes in the clear view of teachers who took no action to stop the harassment.

    (p. 13)

    Ms. Wichman’s response was to blame Jane for the student’s malicious act, telling Jane, in effect, “This should be a lesson for you – you shouldn’t have had that picture on your phone if you didn’t want people to see those photos.”

    (p. 15)

    There are many other such examples in the suit showing that the policies you’ve outlined are not being followed. Granted this is a lawsuit, so the examples are skewed to the more extreme cases. However, as I said, the problems are in the implementation of policy, not so much the wording of the policies themselves.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Thanks Ken .. I was unaware of the details of the lawsuit .. after seeing your excerpts I looked it up on the internet and found the text of the entire suit here. I found it quite chilling to read of what has been going on there. Now it is possible that the law suit is a bit skewed as you said in your last paragraph. However it seems obvious that more work is needed for this school district to be a safe place for lgbt students.

    The original question that was asked was with regard to the policies in place now and whether they were adequate. Thats what I was pursuing apart from the lawsuit. IMHO it seems that the policies are pretty adequate though it appears as you said that the implementation of the policy has been poor. Additionally it seems there has been earlier action (unfortunately by Christian groups) to undermine these policies. So my question to you (and others) is .. if these policies were adequately enforced do you think they are sufficient or is more needed?

    Dave

  • Ken

    Dave# ~ Sep 19, 2011 at 9:48 am

    “Additionally it seems there has been earlier action (unfortunately by Christian groups) to undermine these policies. So my question to you (and others) is .. if these policies were adequately enforced do you think they are sufficient or is more needed?”

    Depends on what you mean? for the Anoka Hennepin school district or school districts in general. Certainly for Anoka Hennepin a great deal more is needed to correct past problems.

    However, even in the general case I would say more is needed. For example, re-read the policy aimed at suicide prevention . The entire focus is based on students who are already suicidal, rather than preventing them from becoming suicidal in the 1st place. Granted some of the other policies could be considered to help with that, but nothing designed to make glbt students feel comfortable with or accepting of who they are.

  • MIchael Bussee

    Stop Bullying. Speak up.

    Bullying hurts our kids. It can have a lasting and damaging impact on their lives – sometimes more than we realize. Our goal is to raise awareness of the simple, yet powerful actions that parents, kids, and educators can take to prevent bullying. We hope to inspire millions of bystanders to take action by speaking up when they see bullying and to grow a community committed to ending bullying.

    http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2010/bullying/

    http://www.facebook.com/stopbullyingspeakup

  • A-H Teacher

    The concerns have popped in a couple of articles, but in general, that part of the discussion doesn’t seem to be as interesting to the media. There was a little story or two about it, here’s one from our MN Public Radio: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/cities/archive/2011/08/group-accuses-anoka-hennepin-district-of-manipulating-information-on-website.shtml .

  • StraightGrandmother

    A H Teacher, I would like to ask you a question. Can you kindly confirm for the benefit of this community on W Throckmorton, that indeed textbooks are multi cultural showing different families and people of all different races and cultures EXCEPT for sexual minorities and their families. I hope s/he comes back and answers the question.

  • F Young

    The policy’s exclusion of sexual minorities from the curriculum, and its refusal to validate the lives of sexual minority youth result in a school environment that in practice is anything but neutral.

    On the contrary, given the pre-existing misinformation and malice that permeates the community and school, this one-sided censorship policy garantees that LGBT students will continue to be bullied.

    The fact is that you can’t stop bullying with discipline alone, which is what the school is futilely trying to do and M. Worrell is proposing. The ACLU brief shows how pervasive bullying allegedly is. It’s just not possible to have staff watch over each student every minute of the day and discipline each incident. The bullies will always find a time and place to do their dirty work out of sight.

    The only way to stop bullying is to change attitudes, and you can’t do that without contradicting the bigots. But I agree with M. Worrell that you can’t expect every teacher to correct every falsehood uttered by every student on the fly.

    I think the solution has to be systemic rather than case by case. Sexual orientation and appreciation of diversity should be added to the non-optional curriculum. That is the only efficient way to counter the misinformation.

    (It would also be great if LGBT staff came out, but they are probably terrified.)

    I should add that I don’t think you can stop suicides by eliminating bullying alone. And the policy fails on this point too. To stop the suicides, you have to counter the feelings of shame and hopelessness, and you can’t do that by censoring the fact that homosexuality and bisexuality are normal and healthy, that LGBT’s have made tremendous contributions to our civilization and LGBT youth can grow up to be happy adults.

    BTW this case is quite similar to the leading Canadian case. Jubran, where the Supreme Court of Canada found a school board legally liable for anti-LGBT bullying because it relied mainly on discipline, which was ineffective, and failed to implement LGBT sensitivity training as part of the curriculum.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Dave=

    Even with someone like Martin Luther King I am guessing it was probably quite a few years later that textbooks caught up with what he did in the 60?s. My point is that while civil rights were going on in this area our country was in a period of change over the issue. Even when the civil rights laws were passed in this area the country had considerable catching up to do .. some might say we are still catching up.

    StraightGrndmother= Dave Homosexuality was removed as a disease from the DSM in 1986. It is now 25 years, don’t you think the time has long since passed to affirm in our Public Education that persons who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex are in fact NORMAL, that they are simply a sexual minority? Your statement kind of reminds me of what Dr. Martin Luther King wrote from the Birmingham jail,

    Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals….

    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

    http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

    No Dave I can’t agree with you, as surely you write from a position of privelge, enjoying rights not enjoyed by your fellow citizens who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex. “Justice too long delayed is justice denied,” Dave, 25 years is long enough. Now is the time to positively affirm our gay children in our Public Schools. A policy that simply reacts after the fact (after bullying has taken place) is NOT ENOUGH we must through education change attitudes so that anti GLBT bullying does not take place. There must be a pro gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex curriculium.

    I went to the link that A-H teacher provided to the Minnesota Public Radio article and I followed the links from there also. On the Parent led webiste they state that the teachers must according to policy provide an equal forum to students who argue anti gay positions. In other words being neutral means that gays and ONLY gays tormentors by school policy get equal time on the podium. This is tantamount to White Supremisists being given Equal time to bash minorities. It is the same thing Dave. 25 Years Dave, it is long enough, it is time for policies that affirm sexual minorities.

  • http://www.comingou4christians.net Dave

    @SG .. You are talking about what you believe should happen and how fast it should happen .. I am talking about the time it takes for things to happen .. I am well familiar with that fact from Martin Luther King’s history where churches wrote telling him to wait. If you check your dates it took civil rights about 100 years from the end of the civil war to Martin Luther Kings’ time with much of the main push being in the 60′s. That’s a long time and is a sad commentary on our history .. This makes claims by some outspoken Christians that America needs to go back to its earlier moral days rather ludicrous and shows that certain persons are operating either from a position of privilege or are just plain nieve.

    The question here is how to put programs in place in the public schools and what does that look like with regards to this issue and what exactly do you mean by affirm? If by affirm you mean affirmation of gay marriage and such then I think you are going to find many Christian groups opposed to that. If instead you mean that the schools should be up front about this issue and tell students that in terms of moral beliefs there is much diversity in this area but as citizens of the United States we live in a multi culture multi-faith belief society whose principles include respect for others (though not agreement with everyone). Christian groups would doubtless oppose this solution as well but I would prefer it since it is honest with the students and allows them the freedom to explore these ideas within the framework of our country’s principles. That, to me, is part of what education is all about. From what I can tell (and much of this is lawsuit land which makes knowing the truth difficult) it appears that the position here is significanly less than neutral with the teachers not being allowed to say anything positive about lgbt students. Additionally this group, PAL seems to be pushing a pseudo science agenda that goes beyond a moral view and insists that lgbt students are broken (ie. they can change) and need fixed — a position that is certainly quite a bit less than affirming. The main point here is that there are a lot of layers to this issue and how it should be addressed.

    Dave

  • Ken

    SGM

    Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973, not 1986. And the 1st time (AFAIK) gay rights issues hit the public schools was the Briggs Initiative in 1978 dealing with gay teachers (and teachers support of gay rights). And the 1st time student rights hit the public schools was in 1980 in RI when a gay student caused a stir when he wanted to bring his bf to the prom.

    However, you are correct, this certainly isn’t a NEW issue. Public schools have had been dealing with gay rights issues for over 30 years.

    Dave,

    while schools (specifically teachers) should remain neutral on political topics, whether it is gay marriage, the war in Iraq, abortion, or presidential politics, that certainly isn’t the same as staying silent. On the other hand, they should also be sure that ALL their students are made to feel comfortable with who they are, even if some parents are not.

  • Michael Bussee

    Another, tragic victim of bullycide.

    Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old gay teen from the Buffalo, NY area, killed himself last weekend after what his parents say was years of bullying, WIVB reports:

    Soon after coming home from a family camping trip, Jamey was found dead Sunday. His parents say he was always under pressure because of struggles with his sexuality. Jamey’s mother Tracy Rodemeyer said, “So he hung around with the girls a lot, so then the teasing started happening like ‘Oh you’re such a girl or you’re gay or whatever and that bothered him for many years.”

    Jamey’s father Tim Rodemeyer said, “To the kids who are bullying they have to realize that words are very powerful and what you think is just fun and games isn’t to some people, and you are destroying a lot of lives.”

    Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2011/09/jamey.html#ixzz1YW83ce8Ghttp://www.towleroad.com/2011/09/jamey.html

  • StraightGrandmother

    Michael,

    Tears are running down my cheeks, I am so upset. That poor child, Jamey Rodemeyer,it breaks my heart Micheal,

    (Remainder of comment removed for violation of commenting guidelines)

  • http://www.comingou4christians.net Dave

    SG .. I strongly suggest you calm down and stop using the f word. And you can stop making (false) accusations as well. I am not ‘nicing’ anyone to death (especially since I do not even work in this school district or any school district). It took me 3 or 4 requests on this thread to get people to actualy talk about the topic and what they would like to see in schools and whether this school’s program was adequate .. and if not .. what they would add. I am looking for practical answers to the issue .. not drama..

    From what I have heard so far from my questions (which I had to ask multiple times) .. it looks like .. in addition to what they have .. several folks here believe it should be taught as part of the educational process that being gay is not a mental illness. I certainly agree with that .. Additionally .. folks believe that contributions to society by folks who are gay should be taught. And as A-H Teacher indicated .. beyond just having a program .. steps need to be taken to make sure the program is instituted. IMO .. none of these things would be teaching a moral code so they should fall within acceptable range for Christians .. however .. I think we all know that groups such as PAL will unfortunately fight to reject such programs or teachings That seems to be what is happening in this school district.

    Dave.

  • Michael Christoph

    PAL will, of course, continue to fight any sort of sexual education beyond abstinence. Ignorance and fear are powerful weapons. Parents are being told that their straight children will “turn” gay if exposed to the idea of homosexuality. PAL is spreading lies to instill fear in parents.

    Much of this reminds me of the religion vs evolution issue. Many religious people feel the teaching of evolution undermines their right to mold their childrens beliefs. Many religious people have tried to introduce religious ideas into science classrooms to counter scientific teachings. Many religious people have failed. Education and truth have won out. Hopefully this will also be the outcome for sexual identity education.

    I do not believe homosexuality needs to be pervasive throughout a school’s curriculum. A section of sex-ed should cover the facts. Like many schools acknowledgement of Black History Month, they could similarly set aside a small amount of time to focus on historical gay figures and the history of the gay rights movement.

    …or perhaps that’s an unreasonable request.

  • Michael Christoph

    OH!!! …and the best part is that facts are inherently neutral. no?

  • StraightGrandmother

    I agree my comment should have been removed. I get so emotional over these suicides by children and young adults who are sexual minorities or perceived to be sexual minorities by others. I am sorry for my outburst. I should have said the same thing in more appropriate manner.

  • ken

    While I dislike the extremism of orgs like PAL, I think that this story shows how things can be taken to far in the other extreme.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Ken,

    Yes .. I saw that example .. while the teacher’s reaction was over the top what the studnet actually said is a bit telling re:

    At some point during the conversation, he turned to a friend and said that he was a Christian and “being a homosexual is wrong.”

    Assuming the quote is accurate the student was saying it was wrong to be gay. This is the very thing we would want to avoid. Unfortunately the techer’s over the top reaction ruined an opportunity for a teachable moment.

    Dave

  • Ken

    Dave# ~ Sep 23, 2011 at 4:55 am

    “Unfortunately the techer’s over the top reaction ruined an opportunity for a teachable moment.”

    I agree the teacher blew an opportunity, but it was more than the teacher who was over the top. Originally, the teen got a 2 day suspension (later rescinded), and that would have had to come from the administration.

  • A-H Teacher

    To answer StraightGrandmother’s question – it is rare to find a textbook without diverse racial, ethnic, religious, gender, disability images, topics, and characters. It is harder to find books with diverse kinds of families, but they are out there. In fact, our district does have books they use with the elementary families curriculum with same sex parents depicted along with other types of families. We have a place in our secondary history curriculum that has the gay rights movement listed as an topic for study in the context of civil rights movements in America. Gay characters can show up in plays and books teachers choose.

    The issue is that even with those options, there is a message out there that those topics should be avoided. Here are a few examples of what is driving that message:

    We don’t rely on textbooks as much anymore, so teachers often find more current materials on their own. When a teacher showed a video about the Gay Rights Movement, a parent called in, and the teacher was directed not to show it again. When she asked for an alternative video on the topic, she couldn’t get a response.

    On the Day of Silence, district administration asserts that teachers could wear a shirt students were selling in support of the day. However, individual principals contradicted that when the day actually came around.

    When a teacher put on a play about bullying written by students that included a gay character, district administration would not allow it to presented to students during the school day like other plays are. Instead, it was only allowed to be run after school.

    There are more examples but the feeling a lot of teachers have is that our district says one thing to lawyers and media, and an entirely different thing to its teachers. That kind of playing both sides behavior has a chilling effect on discussion and action around improving school climate for our LGBT students, staff, and families.

  • Ken

    A-H Teacher# ~ Sep 23, 2011 at 11:20 am

    “When a teacher showed a video about the Gay Rights Movement, a parent called in, and the teacher was directed not to show it again. When she asked for an alternative video on the topic, she couldn’t get a response.”

    Was the teacher actually teaching on the topic of the Gay Rights Movement or was this part of some other topic (ex. civil rights movements, etc)?

    Do you know what (if any was given) the specific objection to the video was?

    “That kind of playing both sides behavior has a chilling effect on discussion and action around improving school climate for our LGBT students, staff, and families.”

    I suspect the district is also going to find out that such behaviour doesn’t play well in court either.

  • A-H Teacher

    The video was part of the curriculum that stated that in the context of illustrating how civil rights movements of the 1960′s influenced later movements, teachers can use the women’s rights movement, disability rights movement, Native American rights movement, or the gay rights movement.

    I’m not entirely sure why the district turned down the video, there may have been legitimate reasons, but the big concern was that they were unwilling to discuss an acceptable replacement. The curriculum director literally wouldn’t return her calls. The message was that though LGBT topics are in our curriculum, we are unwilling to approve an materials that would support its instruction.

    At one point, they were even suggesting that every single supplemental material teachers use, from teacher made video to funny math song to remember the order of the planets, be approved by the principal. This move was in response to concerns teachers would not be “neutral”. Principals stood up and said there was no way they could accommodate that request (imagine – a high school with 150 teachers adding just one interesting item per week to their teaching).

    That kind of weirdness makes lesson planning feel like walking through a minefield.

  • Robin Mavis – Anoka Hennepin Parent

    The Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy is circular in logic. On the one hand it says when and if a teacher addresses sexual orientation within the context of curriculum…..but then says sexual orientation is not part of curriculum. Secondly, District Policy is not supposed to determine curriculum, the Curriculum Committee is supposed to recommend curriculum to the administration and board to have it approved. The district policy is basically forcing board members and administration to approve curriculum only if it does not include sexual orientation. So there isn’t even a chance to introduce it, even if the committee thinks it’s a good idea or the administration or even a majority of board members. Like many things that go on in this neck of the woods, things are put in place to ensure that everything APPEARS to be legitimate but when you closely examine it, it is full of backroom deals and shinanigans.

    Let me tell you a little bit about the school board chairman, Tom Heidemann. Tom had his dear friend MN Rep. Jim Abeler throw a fundraiser for Tom’s re-election bid to the board. It just so happens that Jim Abeler and his wife hosted the very first P.A.L. meeting. It’s also very interesting that Jim Abeler founded the PAC charter school up in Ramsey, and every year Tom signs agreements to allow the PAC students to participate in AH’s athletic program at “very subsidized rates” and that is a quote from Tom himself.

    So this whole thing about Tom or the board wanting to be neutral is a bunch of malarky. Tom is a politician and is bankrolled by his religious cronies to do their bidding. Every single one of those board members except for Scott Wenzel kisses Tom’s hind end. Kathy Tinglestad was practically drooling over him at the GOP SD 47 meeting held earlier this month. It’s sickening. And to top it off, Tom had the audacity to say that the $1000/month stipend he recieves is ‘nothing’. Tell that to some of the families in this district who would be more than grateful to have $1000 a month as their total income. We have 30% poverty rate in our district, the board is asking for 3 levies to pass this election, and they are digging their heels in on this policy that when they lose in court, and they will lose, the district’s insurance policy is either going to skyrocket or the district will be dropped all together and we’re going to have to pay through the nose for coverage. For what? So these people can retain their small mindedness and act like little tyrants. They forget …. the public is their boss, not the other way around.

  • http://twitter.com/QueerScienceEd/ Mary Hoelscher

    The primary challenge I see to this policy is that there is no litmus test to what counts as non-neutral in regards to heterosexuality. Sure, it seems that most any curriculum which mentions GLBTQ individuals is scrutinized. What curriculum elements which promote straight lifestyles has been questioned? How can something be neutral if promoting one side is okay and promoting the other side is not? If showing a video with a straight marriage is perceived as neutral, than showing a video with a gay marriage must also be regarded as neutral. If a teacher can share their straight marriage agenda by discussing their upcoming wedding or honeymoon plans to a member of the opposite sex, than a GLBTQ teacher ought to be able to do the same. If the literature teacher cannot select a story with a gay couple, they should not be able to select a story with a straight couple. If the biology teacher cannot teach about gay pair bonding, the biology teacher shouldn’t be teaching about straight reproduction either.

    There is nothing “neutral” about silencing teachers’ efforts to balance the already completely pervasive, silently ingrained promotion of heterosexuality. There IS promotion of heterosexuality. Teachers must be permitted to “promote” homosexuality if this equation is to be balanced.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I was reading “The year in Gay” end of year round up type news stories, you know the Top 10 type of articles. And I came across this video. I wanted to add it to a topic Warren has on bullying. This took place in Michigan, take a look

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDK-ja8PLgg&feature=player_embedded

  • StraightGrandmother

    These parents who just HATE sexual minorities are not giving up. All these suicides in their school but they don’t care. Read about their recent school board meeting

    snip- “A slew of conservative Christian parents — and even an orthodox rabbi — implored the Anoka-Hennepin School District to purge schools of any mention of homosexuality and demanded that teachers teach about the “ex-homosexual” movement and “gay-related immune deficiency.”

    http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2012/01/13/conservative-christian-parents-fight-right-discriminate-against-lgbt-students-anoka-

    It is a heck of an article. This is Animus with a capital A.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Well they are at it again .. the Parent’s Action League that is (http://www.parentsactionleague.org/concerns-demands/ ) (This is a portion of their latest demands.)

    ——————–

    Therefore be it resolved that the Parents Action League in Anoka-Hennepin School District #11 demands the following ten actions be taken by our School Board:

    1. A new division within the Student Support Services and a special section on the district 11 website devoted to “Students of faith, moral conviction, ex-homosexuals and ex-transgenders”

    2.A listening tour by Superintendent Denny Carlson and District Prevention Coordinator Barry Scanlan with students of faith, moral conviction, ex-homosexuals and ex-transgenders

    3.That the District 11 School Board, administration and staff work closely with pro-family and [b]ex-homosexual and ex-transgender organizations[/b] to provide ongoing training to school counselors, nurses, social workers, school psychologists, prevention specialists, student learning advocates, and a number of secondary assistant principals and principals

    4.Provide professional development opportunities in which philosophical, pedagogical, and political assumptions of GLBT advocacy are critically examined

    5.Provide webinars/seminars for all staff [b]on overcoming sexual disorders[/b]

    6.Provide training on bullying and suicide that protects all students

    7.Provide the history of gay-related immune deficiency (GRID), AIDS, and the medical consequences of homosexual acts.

    8.That all health classes that address homosexuality be required to share up-to-date information from the CDC on sexually transmitted infections and HIV among the group the CDC designates as Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)

    9.Provide the following pro-family, ex-homosexual, and ex-transgender information and websites to all counselors, school psychologists, SLAs, prevention specialists, assistant principals, principals and classroom teachers:

    ?National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH)

    ?American College of Pediatricians (ACOP)

    ?Facts About Youth

    ?Exodus International

    ?Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays (PFOX)

    ?Mission America

    ?Family Research Council

    ?Courage

    ?JONAH

    10.Provide pro-family, ex-homosexual and ex-transgender videos to secondary media centers

    ————————————

    Small wonder that groups such as these are causing such a ruckus .. I would understand it if they wanted to push abstinence / chastity. But they are going way beyond any biblical position by pushing flawed NARTH approaches.

    Dave

  • StraightGrandmother

    Dave I would like to comment on their point

    8.That all health classes that address homosexuality be required to share up-to-date information from the CDC on sexually transmitted infections and HIV among the group the CDC designates as Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)

    I know what the CDC research is about, I went and read it. What they did was go to gay bars and corners where gay men hang out. They only accepted people into the study who had been sexually active within the last year, and they offered an inducement of a free HIV test if the volunteers would take the survey.

    Is this population representative of all gay men? Do you think they would have gotten different results if they would have surveyed in front of Home Depot? If they would have included ALL gay men, not just ones who were sexually active?.

    Say you were sexually active in a monogamous relationship with your partner and had been previously tested, you would have no fear of contracting HIV and thus the inducement of a free HIV test is not something you would be interested it. These men did not take the survey. This so reminds me of the Xiridiu study out of the Netherlands. Not exactly the same but very similar.

    Then they take these results and generalize them to all gay men everywhere, I have to do this from memory but I think 40% tested positive for HIV. Nobody bothers to check the actual study and see that this is a population that hangs out at gay bars, but instead they generalize this 40% number to ALL men who are gay. If I see a number like 40% you can bet I am going to go read the research myself.

    That is why these parents have point number 8 in their demands they want to tell youth that 40% of all men who are gay are HIV +.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    @SgG I don’t doubt your memory on this (and it wouldnt surprise me to see the facts distorted .. But I did look this up and found more recent information from the CDC. It can be found on their website here.. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/index.htm

    It seems that HIV rates are still high (though not as high as 40%). What is interesting is htat the CDC has some conclusions on why these rates are high .. see this excerpt ..

    ____

    Stigma and homophobia may have a profound impact on the lives of MSM, especially their mental and sexual health. Internalized homophobia may impact men’s ability to make healthy choices, including decisions around sex and substance use. Stigma and homophobia may limit the willingness of MSM to access HIV prevention and care, isolate them from family and community support, and create cultural barriers that inhibit integration into social networks.

    Racism, poverty, and lack of access to health care are barriers to HIV prevention services, particularly for MSM from racial or ethnic minority communities. A recent CDC study found a strong link between socioeconomic status and HIV among MSM: prevalence increased as education and income decreased, and awareness of HIV status was higher among MSM with greater education and income.

    —-

    So it would appear that the main reason for the elevated numbers of aids cases are internalized homophobia .. stigma .. lack of access to health care .. cultural barriers .. and social economic status to name a few .. See the full CDC report for more complete information.

    The key here is that there are reasons for this. I would think that safe sex (or abstinence) would be something relevant to folks gay or straight .. not just focused on one class of people. Though I don’t know for certain what the motives of the Parent’s group are I would think they would be concerned across the board in this area but it doesn’t really look like their statement reflects that.

    Dave

  • StraightGrandmother

    Alright Dave, the 40% I remembered is that 40% were unaware that they were HIV Positive. See this is how that study is projected onto ALL men who are gay. Time magazine Lead paragraph

    Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 1 in 5 sexually active gay and bisexual men in America are HIV-positive but that 44% of them don’t know it.

    Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2010/09/26/study-20-of-homosexual-men-are-hiv-positive-but-only-half-know-it/#ixzz1khq00E36

    Here is the actual Research Report

    Health department staff members first identified appropriate venues (e.g., bars, clubs, organizations, and street locations) and days and times when men frequented those venues (3).

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5937a2.htm?s_cid=mm5937a2_w

    What if the Health department went to streets (you know like above where they went to “street locations”) where female prostitutes hang out and strip clubs and tested those women, got the results and then said, “30% of all women in America have syphilis”

    And of course the mainstream media went with it and you can be assured that on every single anti-gay website I frequent they have that out there as a reference. Gee CDC, thanks for that!!!

    Again, I bet if they tested gays who frequent Home Depot they would get different results, do you think?

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    SG .. No disagreement here that the data is being used/gathered in an unfavorable slanted way. We’re just looking at it from different angles in terms of how it is being misused. Thanks for the references .. very helpful..

    Dave

  • David M.

    My heart goes out to the children and teens in the Anoka Hennepin system who are either part of sexual minority groups, or accused of being so. I well remember the fierce shame I felt as a teen when the adults were kicking around homosexuality as a political football. If only these parents knew it is some of their own children they are marginalizing. If they knew that their hate would result in the suicide of one of their own, would they stop? They’ll never know till their lives are shattered.

  • David M.

    I just sent the following message to the Parents Action League. If anyone else wants to send a message, the link is http://www.parentsactionleague.org/contact-us/.

    _________

    I was reared in a conservative Christian home in Indiana. In my home, church and schools, the topic of homosexuality was treated in ways similar to your approach. I cannot tell you how much harm this did to me as a teen trying to figure out my same-sex attractions. I felt incredible shame, and yes, at times I was suicidal. I am only now, in my 50s, finding some freedom from that horrible shame.

    Statistically speaking, there is no doubt that some of the children of parents in your organization are LGBT. You do not know who they are. For the sake of your children, I beg you to stop. I realize you believe your faith is at stake. You believe your children are at stake, and they are. But not in the way you think. Your desire is to protect your children from becoming gay. Your fight will not prevent even one LGBT youth from having to deal with their issues. Your fight is creating a climate that will make this struggle more difficult for them than you can imagine.

    For the sake of your own children, please stop your campaign. You will not know which children you have broken until it is too late.

  • StraightGrandmother

    David M, WOW! What a powerful message. You really care, you care for the children. You inspire me to continue to fight until every single child is safe and loved. Many Thanks Dave M!

  • Robin Mavis

    Wait … it’s not over yet…. the school board chairman, Tom Heidemann appointed one of the members of the anti-gay activist group PAL (Parents Action League) to the district’s Anti-bullying task force.

    I couldn’t have imagined a better thumbing of the nose to parents, students, teachers and others concerned about school climate.

    Tom Heidemann should resign.


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