Friday, 16 September 2011

Gay Students Bullied in Anoka, Minn., Suit Says -

We know that the rate of teen suicide is several times higher higher for gay and lesbian youngsters than for their heterosexual peers. We also know that bullying, for whatever reason, is often a factor in teen suicide. So, in any community where the rate of teen suicide is exceptionally high, then a logical response would be to develop deliberate interventions to reduce the incidence of bullying - and to teach tolerance for diversity. This is not the case in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota - which lies largely within the Congressional district of Michelle Bachmann, the notably anti-gay Republican contender for president. Here, in an ostensibly neutral position on sexuality, teachers are forbidden from discussing homosexuality. The problem is that this position of "neutrality" is inherently also "neutral" on bullying - and in this case, silence effectively is consent, condoning bullying while offering no help at all to those who are struggling to come to terms with their minority sexuality. Is it any wonder that suicide is so prevalent in Bachmann's district?

The New York Times has a useful, extensive analysis. Here's and extract - but go to the NYT directly for the full, important piece.

Tammy Aaberg said that after her son Justin hanged himself at age 15, she learned he had been bullied by other students.
"In many larger cities, lessons in tolerance of sexual diversity are now routine parts of health education and antibully training. But in the suburbs the battle rages on, perhaps nowhere more bitterly than here in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, just north of Minneapolis. With 38,000 students, it is Minnesota’s largest school system, and most of it lies within the Congressional district of Ms. Bachmann, a Republican contender for president.
Ms. Bachmann has not spoken out on the suicides or the fierce debate over school policy and did not respond to requests to comment for this article. She has in the past expressed skepticism about antibullying programs, and she is an ally of the Minnesota Family Council, a Christian group that has vehemently opposed any positive portrayal of homosexuality in the schools."

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