ST. CLOUD, Minn. — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), this week has finally issued a follow-up response to her previous assertion that bullying is “not a federal issue” — Bachmann now adds, “bullying is wrong.”
The Minnesota Independent reported that Bachmann responded Monday to a petition delivered to her St. Cloud office by Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Justin Aaberg — a 15-year-old gay teen who took his own life in July 2010 after prolonged anti-gay bullying. Aaberg was a student in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, which lies in Bachmann’s congressional district.
Bachmann has been taken to task by LGBTQ equality rights and anti-gay bullying advocates for her lack of response to the spate of suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin district over the past two years — the school district is the target of two lawsuits and the subject of a federal investigation over policies that some officials and teachers have deemed harmful to LGBTQ students.
During a campaign stop last month in California — Bachmann who is a GOP presidential hopeful — shrugged off a voter’s question, saying that bullying is “not a federal issue.”
Aaberg’s petition, created through Credo Action, garnered more than 140,000 signatures, and prompted this response from Bachmann:
Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns about anti-gay bullying and harassment via the CREDO Action petition. As your Representative for the 6th district of Minnesota, your views are very important to me and I appreciate hearing from you.
Unquestionably, bullying is wrong. I agree that no student should feel belittled or threatened by peers at school. All human lives have undeniable value, and I urge parents, teachers, and students alike to champion this fact in our community and to address instances of bullying promptly and firmly when they occur.
As one of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Anoka-Hennepin School District, I am very aware and concerned about the cases of bullying and suicides that have occurred there. In response, my office has been in communication with both school officials and with individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide.
We all desire to see bullying brought to an end and the best interests of students served in our schools. Again, thank you for your commitment on this matter. I assure you I will continue to be a listening ear for any constituent wishing to express his or her view on this or any other issue.
Member of Congress
Over the past two years, a total of nine teenagers from within the school district have committed suicide — the most recent in May — and many more students have attempted to take their lives. Some of the victims were gay, or perceived to be by their classmates, and many were reportedly bullied.