Minnesota School District Now Has To Give A Damn About LGBTQ Children

bullyingMinnesota’s largest school district has seen happier days, it seems. After what The New York Times is calling “a spate of student suicides,” the schools’ former policy of remaining “neutral” on LGBTQ bullying has been revoked. And the federal government is even investigating how the consistent harassment of six children violated their civil rights.

Although the high usage of homophobic language has been documented in even elementary school children, teachers have often reported around the country that they feel prohibited from stepping in — because of parents. With some people equating tolerance and respect with “indoctrination” and that pesky “gay agenda,” teachers often don’t step in to prevent bullying when it pertains to sexual orientation or gender diversity. But the Anoka-Hennepin district won’t stay in the dark with addressing homophobia any longer:

Last month, the district rescinded the neutrality policy in favor of a requirement to ”affirm the dignity and self-worth of students” regardless of race, sexual orientation, disabilities or other factors. In addition, according to the new agreement, the district will strengthen measures to prevent, detect and punish bullying based on gender or sexual orientation, hire a full-time ”harassment-prevention” official, bolster mental health counseling and identify harassment ”hot spots” on the campuses of middle and high schools.

The six students who have been the targets of repeated harassment — to which the school decided to turn a blind eye — have also reportedly received a lump sum of $270,000 for their civil rights violations.

What’s also important about this decision, which was won by a 5-to-1 vote by the schoolboard, is that it’s being considered as a “national model.” So if all works out well for the kids in Minnesota and bullying drops, we could see a policy much like this in schools around the country. Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, commented that the new policy isn’t about having big gay pride parades in the classroom, saying:

”This is not about whether to advocate gay marriage,” Mr. Perez said. ”This is about safety.”

In a climate in which children can be permissibly attacked or harassed for even “looking gay” or “doing something gay,” no child is safe.

(photo: Shutterstock)

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