A Minnesota school district is fighting back in the wake of a controversial Rolling Stone article which drew attention to its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in the wake of a rash of teen suicides in the region.
The article in Rolling Stone presents a grossly distorted portrayal of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, its schools and its communities.
Three or four highly critical individuals do not represent the many quality administrators and 2,700 highly professional teachers who care deeply about our students and work each day not only to educate them, but also to keep them safe.
We take action when we get reports of bullying or students using harassing language and there are consequences, up to and including expulsion.
Sabrina Rubin Erdely's article, "One Town's War on Gay Teens," stated that local evangelicals in the area (which happens to be the home district of GOP congresswoman Michele Bachmann) had contributed to "an extreme anti-gay climate." Erdely drew attention to the district's so-called "neutrality" policy, which reportedly states that, "Anoka-Hennepin staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation including but not limited to student-led discussions."
"At Anoka Middle School for the Arts, after Kyle Rooker was urinated upon from above in a boys' bathroom stall, an associate principal told him, 'It was probably water,'" she writes. "Jackson Middle School seventh-grader Dylon Frei was passed notes saying, 'Get out of this town, fag'; when a teacher intercepted one such note, she simply threw it away."
A local news report cities Anoka-Hennepin officials who said that two of the students cited in the story do not attend schools in the district, where there have reportedly been seven suicides in less than two years.
The district is currently in the midst of a lawsuit filed on behalf of five students who allege they faced severe anti-LGBT bullying and harassment at schools, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted last year. "We are disappointed that the district fails to see the serious harm this policy is causing its students," Sam Wolfe, the SPLC's lead attorney in the case, said at the time.
Take a look at some recent anti-LGBT bullying cases and other related news below: