Ask the Anoka-Hennepin School Board to Re-Evaluate "Neutrality" Policy on Sexual Orientation
  • Petitioned Scott Wenzel

This petition was delivered to:

School Board Member
Scott Wenzel
School Board Member
Marci Anderson
School Board Chair
Tom Heidemann
School Board Member
John Hoffman
School Board Member
Kathy Tingelstad

Ask the Anoka-Hennepin School Board to Re-Evaluate "Neutrality" Policy on Sexual Orientation

    1. Petition by

      <span>Change.org</span>

The Anoka-Hennepin school district is Minnesota's largest school district. Over the past year, three students in the district who identified as gay or lesbian committed suicide, with evidence that these students experienced anti-gay harassment while in school. The district has put in place a number of policies to address anti-gay bullying, yet the district also has a policy on the books known as the "neutrality" policy regarding sexual orientation. Here's the policy:

"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. If and when staff address sexual orientation, it is important that staff do so in a respectful manner that is age-appropriate, factual, and pertinent to the relevant curriculum."

The school district has indicated that this policy only concerns curriculum, and should by no means effect efforts to deal with anti-gay bullying. But a number of activists have noted that this policy, when put in practice, confuses teachers and could tie their heads when dealing with the subject of sexual orientation.

Moreover, an anti-gay organization in the district known as the Parents Action League (PAL) has endorsed this "neutrality" policy. PAL believes that homosexuality is a disorder and a disease, and that it can be cured through therapy. They've vowed to go after leaders in the district if bolder steps to address anti-gay bullying are put in place.

Given this epidemic of suicide -- indeed, on the Anoka-Hennepin school district's web site, the district says that it is considered a site of "suicide contagion" with higher than normal numbers of suicides and suicide attempts -- now seems like the perfect time to re-evaluate the district's "neutrality" policy.

As Tammy Aaberg, the mother of a 15-year-old student, Justin, who committed suicide earlier this year, said in testimony before the school district:

"For those of you who have never had a gay child, you need to know that it is one of the scariest things to learn, because you know that they will need to deal with a lot of criticism and harassment in their lives, and it makes you worried," Aaberg said. "Unfortunately, I didn't learn of this unfair school sexuality policy until after Justin died ... my question to you is what about my parental rights to have my gay son go to school, without being bullied?"

LGBT issues should not be kept out of curriculum. Please send the Anoka-Hennepin school district a message today.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 3 signatures
    2. Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a letter to Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District demanding that District officials immediately repeal the gag policy.

    3. Minnesota's Largest School District Still Fails LGBT Youth

      For months, the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota has faced a bevy of criticism for a policy they keep on the books that prevents discussion about LGBT issues in the classroom. The policy has been colloquially dubbed "the neutrality...

    4. After Her Son's Suicide, Tammy Aaberg Fights Hard for LGBT Youth

      In July 2010, 15-year-old Justin Aaberg took his life after experiencing rampant anti-gay bullying and harassment in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota's largest district. The tragedy sparked nationwide discussion about the role of school...

    5. Embracing LGBT-Inclusive Bullying Rules Not Just About Education

      The simmering culture war appears to be evolving into a full scale battle up in Minnesota.
      With the election of an emboldened Republican majority, state lawmakers are again looking to ban same-sex marriage. And it's against this backdrop that the...

    6. Anoka-Hennepin School District Responds to Concerns Over LGBT Suicide

      Last week we wrote about an epidemic of suicide over the past year in Minnesota’s largest school district, Anoka-Hennepin. Over the past year, seven current or recently graduated middle school and high school students have taken their lives,...

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Arthur Howard DONNELLY, MN
      • about 3 years ago

      Please make your school "safe" for all students.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Anita Wisch VALENCIA, CA
      • about 3 years ago

      By being "neutral," you are not speaking up for equal rights for ALL students. Just think of all the germans that remained "neutral" while their jewish friends were taken away and either gassed, or en-slaved. You can see how well being "neutral" works......

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • kay glasnapp RINGSTED, IA
      • about 3 years ago

      My sister and I graduated from a small town in iowa in the early 80s. I still live 7 miles from the school I graduated from with my husband of 25 years. My sister is gay and i will always believe some of the things she confronted in that small school is why she has had to distance herself from family and where she grew up. I thank god everyday she found a home in seattle where she has a great job and was able to surround herself with a safe enviroment and friends. Today I am so greatfull she did not choose to live anywhere near you people and that i had the means and willingness to homeschool my own child, Not that I believe this uglyness could ever happen in my state, my child has love and respect for everyone no school could change that. Maybe one day he will live in world where you will see each person is valuable in GODS eyes.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Stephanie Gallagher CEDAR RAPIDS, IA
      • about 3 years ago

      I am currently living in Cedar Rapids, IA but I have little brothers and sisters who go to Anoka High and I know how much the suicides have gotten to my little sister. Anoka needs to do everything in their power to make that school a safe, friendly place to attend school.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Cathy Easter KAPAA, HI
      • about 3 years ago

      How distressing to see something other than neutrality presented as neutrality by this school district. It is up to parents to educate their children on contemporary realities in society, including the existence of both bullying and of contributing community members who happen to have other than mainstream sexuality. This saddens me greatly. I raised my children in Minnesota, and found that acceptance of differences, and tolerance, was in short supply.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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