Anoka, Minnesota may bill itself as the "Halloween Capital of the World," but lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) trick-or-treaters might be better off taking their October revelry elsewhere.
As Minnesota Public Radio is reporting, organizers of the town's annual Halloween parade have denied a request from an LGBT youth group to participate. The letter is quoted as stating: "At this time we are unable to accept your application for the parade. We have reached our maximum for walking units," and is signed "Liz," who is identified as the parade chair.
The vice president of Justin's Gift, a group created to support gay youth after several suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, said kids who planned to participate were "pretty upset" by the news, and that he was "confused and mystified" as to the denial of the request. "We're trying to show these kids that they're part of the community and unfortunately it backfired and sent a completely different message," Jefferson Fietek is quoted as saying, noting that about 30 students had planned to march in the parade dressed as their favorite fairytale characters.
According to the official Justin's Gift website, a Halloween dance for members was being planned as an alternative to the parade.
The decision follows months of controversy surrounding the treatment of LGBT youth in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, which also happens to be the home district of GOP congresswoman Michele Bachmann. In February, Rolling Stone published a controversial article, "One Town's War On Gay Teens," which implied that local evangelicals in the area had contributed to "an extreme anti-gay climate."
"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,'" Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote. "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."
After the article was published, Anoka-Hennepin school district officials released a statement calling the story a "grossly distorted portrayal."
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