So after being legally forced to settle with families after anti-gay abuse by teachers was exposed (2009), and after denying that a string of six student suicides were related to anti-gay bullying (see my Sept. 8, 2010 post), and most recently after being called on the carpet for bias against a student nominated lesbian couple as candidates for Snow Days (now we’re in January of 2011)…
Anoka-Hennepin School District has given a lot of heart filled thought to their own professional hostility, silence and inadequate policies and curriculum for addressing educational issues regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.
Late this fall they decided it was time to take an open stand against homophobic bullying that may have been associated with a string of recent suicides (emphasis theirs not mine) . But community members demanded more than post-trauma punishment and continued to pushed the district to actually educate students about issues of diversity in gender and sexuality.
However, as of this past Monday the board has yet decided to remain silent and go with community consensus rather than following their own equity policy or applying best practices in education. Because professionals in the education community of Anoka-Hennepin, like their Minneapolis S.D. neighbors, know that schools must “incorporate LGBT themes in its curriculum and provides for educational materials ‘discussing the issues of sexuality, gender identity, and safety for staff, students and families’…”
…to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.
…and to fulfil their obligation to ensure the protection of civil rights of all students and community members.
However, the Anoka-Hennepin School Board has maintained a ‘neutrality’ policy with regard to LGBTQ issues in education.
In the Anoka-Hennepin School District, there also is a curriculum policy that says teachers when discussing gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender (GLBT) issues should remain neutral.
A district spokesperson said that teaching about GLBT or issues about them is not in the approved curriculum.
Thus Minnesota’s largest school district once again finds itself at the center of a firestorm where their own harassment policy recognizes the ongoing and often explicitly violent bias directed at LGBTQ members of the student body even as they host a board meeting where community members are invited and encouraged to offer up opinions on the humanity of those same community members.
Which is exactly what happened Monday evening when the board invited community members to discuss their opinions on the official “Neutrality Policy” and the potential though not necessarily granted civil rights of LGBT students in the school district. Tidbits like the quote below resulted in a shouting match and termination of the meeting.
“I am well aware of the national homosexual agenda to come after our kids,” she said, adding, “If anyone is being silenced, it’s the students who have a conservative Christian viewpoint.” – Laurie Thompson, a conservative Christian and mother of three district students aired her views at the 2/28/11 Anoka-Hennepin school board meeting.
The district’s neutrality position clearly encourages Laurie Thompson among others to claim a persecuted silencing of their anti-gay demands that LGBTQ students be considered subhuman. The board in fact offered her this forum to present her ‘side’ in the “are gay students actually people” debate…
Because, you see, the Anoka-Hennepin School Board consider their professional educational silence in the curriculum and their administrative enforcement of heterosexual standards and gender norms a “neutrality” policy. And therefore they consider the human rights of LGBTQ students debatable among the community constituents.
Which of course reminded me of something Paulo Freire said about neutrality:
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Phew – I just saw the online video of this entire board meeting. This issue starts at minute 28.