Anoka-Hennepin School District Lashes Out at 'Rolling Stone' for Article Profiling Gay Teen Suicides
Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District is lashing out at Rolling Stone for an article published this week called "One Town's War on Gay Teens" which profiles the spate of suicides in the school district and the school's policy which forces teachers to remain neutral on the subject of homosexuality. Anoka-Hennepin is the subject of a federal investigation and a lawsuit from five former students. There have been seven student suicides in the school district in less than two years.
Against this supercharged backdrop, the Anoka-Hennepin school district finds itself in the spotlight not only for the sheer number of suicides but because it is accused of having contributed to the death toll by cultivating an extreme anti-gay climate. "LGBTQ students don't feel safe at school," says Anoka Middle School for the Arts teacher Jefferson Fietek, using the acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning. "They're made to feel ashamed of who they are. They're bullied. And there's no one to stand up for them, because teachers are afraid of being fired."
The school district has released a statement in response to the article.
Anoka-Hennepin School District's statement:
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.
When the second suicide occurred, we immediately brought in experts to provide awareness training for students and staff and more in-‐depth training for key staff.
When we learned that some teachers were confused over whether or not to intervene when witnessing bullying and harassment, the School Board and superintendent went on record stating that staff are required to intervene in all instances of bullying or harassment, if they do not they face discipline.
The district’s anti-bullying policy specifically protects sexual orientation.The district is expected to vote next week on a new policy regarding homosexuality.
A report on the article and the school district's anger from WCCO, AFTER THE JUMP...