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MN school district — subject of lawsuit, federal probe — launches GLBT web page

Friday, July 29, 2011
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Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district — which is the subject of a lawsuit and a federal investigation stemming from a spate of suicides by gay, or perceived gay teens — has launched a page on it website to address GLBT issues including bullying and harassment.

via: Anoka-Hennepin GLBT website

The website is intended to answer questions about actions taken by the district in areas of training and support and will also provide a link to policies regarding Harassment, Violence and Discrimination; Bullying Prohibition; and Sexual Orientation Curriculum.

Anoka-Hennepin is the subject of media reports and national interest group pressure on issues related to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) students.

Anoka-Hennepin is a public school system and we accept every student regardless of real or perceived sexual orientation. We also do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, socioeconomic status, marital status or for any other reason outlined in our Equal Educational Opportunity Policy. [...]

Over the past two years, a total of nine teens in the Anoka-Hennepin district have committed suicide, and many more students have reportedly attempted to take their lives.

State public health officials have labeled the area a “suicide contagion area” because of the unusually high death rate. Some of the victims were gay, or perceived to be by their classmates, and many were reportedly bullied.

Investigators from the U.S. Justice Department and representatives from the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights are looking into “allegations of harassment and discrimination in the Anoka-Hennepin School District based on sex, including peer-on-peer harassment based on not conforming to gender stereotypes,” according to a CNN report.

The district has also been named in a lawsuit filed by five gay and lesbian students over its policy regarding the teaching and discussion of sexual orientation in the classroom.

The suit alleges that the district’s current policy on neutrality regarding sexual orientation amounts to nothing less than a “gag rule,” and effectively constrains teachers from dealing with the harassment and bullying of the district’s LGBT students.

GOP presidential hopeful, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has also been criticized for her silence on the teen suicide problem in Akoka-Hennepin, which is located within her congressional district.

Historically, Bachmann has not supported anti-bullying legislation. Slate reported that in 2006, Bachmann told the Minnesota state legislature that passing an anti-bullying bill would be a waste of time.

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