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Students File Federal Lawsuit Against Minnesota School District for Perpetuating Harassment of LGBT Students

More on the lawsuit being filed today by civil rights groups over Minesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District's refusal to stand up against anti-gay bullying. The charges are detailed in a CNN report I posted earlier today revealing that the school is the target of a federal investigation. Seven suicides have taken place in the school over the past two years.

Anoka I've re-posted that report, AFTER THE JUMP...

A press release from the groups:

NCLR, SPLC, and Faegre & Benson filed the suit on behalf of five students who have faced severe anti-LGBT bullying and harassment while attending school in the district. It charges that the district's gag policy perpetuated the harassment suffered by these students and others. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota after the school district failed to address the persistent abuse or repeal its discriminatory policy.

Several instances of abuse are also detailed:

 One student faced daily verbal and physical harassment at school after classmates discovered that she is a lesbian. She reported the harassment to school officials numerous times, but the only response was an occasional verbal reprimand to the harassers. The student eventually dropped out of school and attempted suicide.

· Another student reported chronic anti-LGBT harassment to school authorities for more than two years, only to have school officials suggest that he leave the school because they could not protect him.

· A fourth student was picked on relentlessly because he likes to wear colorful clothes and sing songs by female artists. His school's response was not to address the harassment, but to treat him as the problem. The school prevented him from wearing "girly" clothing and made him miss class time to walk through the hallways separate from the other students, escorted by a staff member. 

Anokehennepin Said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell: "There is something seriously wrong in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, and district officials know it. In school after school, kids who are perceived as gay are harassed mercilessly until they drop out, melt down, or lash back. This epidemic of harassment -- unlike anything we've seen in neighboring districts -- is plainly fueled by the district's shameful and illegal policy singling out LGBT people and LGBT people alone for total exclusion from acknowledgement within the classroom."

Added Sam Wolfe, lead attorney on the case for the SPLC: "We are disappointed that the district fails to see the serious harm this policy is causing its students. School and district officials who are entrusted with the safety and education of all students continue to ignore, minimize, dismiss, and even blame victims for the abusive behavior of other students."

More about the lawsuit HERE.

Watch CNN's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. The description of Anoka-Hennepin mirrors my high school while I was attending in Missouri 15 years ago. The circumstances surrounding the one student, prevented from wearing 'girly' clothes and escorted through the halls, is exactly what happened to a fellow student I knew. He was a wonderfully talented theater student, and wore period clothing from the 1900s to school everyday - the sort of attire that a respectable young gentleman would have worn back in that time. The staff refused to protect him from the privileged & violent jocks then, and stressed that he drop out and find an education elsewhere. School athletes were allowed to be as monstrous as they pleased, and school staff always either made excuses or turned a blind eye; revenues generated from sports trumped the arts, and artistic students were treated as a waste of time. He ended up relocating to the west coast, and still lives there to this day. I'm very excited to see a school district being scrutinized and hopefully held accountable for abusing their charges.

    Posted by: DC | Jul 21, 2011 2:39:53 PM

  2. About damn time.

    Can't help but feel some parallels to Laramie in terms of their portrayal of a media surge on a "quiet" town.

    Posted by: Leo | Jul 21, 2011 2:42:33 PM

  3. Candy Cushman and her group don't want gay kids to be told there is nothing wrong with them because they believe there is something wrong with the kids for being gay. She and her ilk are part of the problem. But they hide behind their religious beliefs.

    Posted by: John Patrick | Jul 21, 2011 3:32:22 PM

  4. I was bullied mercilessly in high school (11 years ago). My bullies physically and sexually assaulted me. They would call me "faggot" while talking directly to the Principal and he wouldn't react at all. No one was ever punished for bullying me, in any real way.

    Once a bully ran into the classroom I was in and grabbed and kissed me as a way to humiliate me. The next day they called both of us into the Principals office and made us shake hands. The Principal, the bully, and the guidance counselor then laughed hysterically. The bully's "punishment" was having to shake my hand.

    When my parents would go to the school, they would claim that I wasn't bullied at all!

    I was too afraid to go to another school because I was afraid it would be even worse somewhere else. My family lived in a rural eastern Kentucky town.

    A lot of bad things happen to gay kids in small rural towns.

    It is beginning to change in some places though.

    I hope the media and civil rights groups expose this school district.

    Posted by: Josh | Jul 21, 2011 3:33:03 PM

  5. Wow - what is going on in Target's Minnesota? First, Target's contribution to MN Forward and their anti-gay candidate - then Bradlee Dean spews his hate in a so-called prayer to the House - and now this.

    Posted by: Ricky | Jul 21, 2011 3:35:33 PM

  6. Isn't that the school district covering Michelle Bachmann's congressional district?

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jul 21, 2011 4:20:29 PM

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    Posted by: Basketball jerseys | Sep 26, 2011 11:36:47 PM

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