This just in:
A group of politicians in Minnesota are playing political games with an anti-bullying policy.
The linked news story above tells the tragic tale of three recent suicides of gay youth in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. And it seems that some members of the MN G.O.P. and a few religious community groups are advocating against a Safe Schools policy that has proven in other districts to reduce violence and save lives. And this is simply to avoid affirming the lives of LGBTQ youth.
There is a great deal of evidence that violence experienced by ALL KIDS goes down in schools with “Safe Schools” anti-bullying policies that address the specific hate language (racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc.) of bullying and harassment.
And it appears from some of the discussion within the article that there are those who live in Minnesota who say there’s really no big problem with homophobia in the schools and a general – “golden rule” – policy is better than naming target groups. For anyone who doesn’t know the statistics of homophobic harassment in schools across the U.S. (9 of 10 LGBTQ youth are harassed at school on a regular basis) I think this little anecdote from the news article is pretty telling:
In 2009, Anoka-Hennepin settled with a student after the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found evidence that two teachers conspired to harass a student they thought was gay. He wasn’t (as if that matters at all), but it cost the district $25,000, not an insignificant sum considering the declining revenues in many districts.
This is a bizarre climate in which teachers feel entitled to gay bait and harass students based upon their gender presentation or presumed sexual orientation. And it is not markedly different from the climate across the country.
And so, according to the article, the education community of Minnesota would like to make school less tolerant of hate across the board, thus the proposed safe schools policy:
Sexual orientation is one of fourteen characteristics that are covered by the bill, which also includes race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical characteristics, or “association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.”
Doesn’t that seem like something any elected official should get behind. I mean in a democracy elected representatives are supposed to represent everyone in the community – everyone.
And this shameless political ploy to appeal to homophobic folks who want to preserve their religious right to smear the qu*!*s while at school is just about as morally wrong as it can be. There’s a body count here to be accounted for here, and it goes far beyond these three suicides. I sure hope Minnesota, and the U.S. Congress can get behind a uniform message that hate, harassment, and bias are not the cultural values we want to pass along to future generations.
* And as for the ironic mug image above – I take it as a compliment 🙂