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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.

VigilWrites Rolling Stone:

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.

AnokaAnoka-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...

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  1. Translation:

    "How dare you tell people about what's going on here, and expose the myriad ways we're criminally negligent!"

    Posted by: Rich F. | Feb 8, 2012 1:10:45 PM

  2. exactly, RICH.

    this will not play out well for the district - lying won't save them.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 8, 2012 1:17:10 PM

  3. This is exactly why we need the free press to shine a light. I am glad Rolling Stone is continuing in-depth articles and investigation when the newsmedia have largely abandoned it.

    Of course what they mean is "our anti-bullying policy NOW protects sexual orientation"

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant!

    Posted by: Strepsi | Feb 8, 2012 1:19:33 PM

  4. what strepsi said... except i thought of cockroaches scurrying when a flashlight shines on them.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Feb 8, 2012 1:22:51 PM

  5. Why is Obama not commenting on all the anti-gay speech going around? Why has he not commented on Roland Martins tweet? Obama is a bigger bigot than Santorum. He is not getting my vote or money.

    Posted by: Chris in SF | Feb 8, 2012 1:23:02 PM

  6. Chris, can you explain with specifics how, exactly, "Obama is a bigger bigot than Santorum?"

    ten bucks says you can't. :D but i'd love to see you at least attempt it.

    come on, kiddo. give it a shot ;-)

    explain. with specifics.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 8, 2012 1:27:09 PM

  7. Sorry Anoka the numerous suicides prove otherwise. If this district was or had ever been serious about dealing with the issues that contributed to the suicides the vote would not be coming up next week it would have been handled 2 years ago. This district is more concerned about absolution than resolution. This has been clear from the beginning. And Michelle like all the rest has blood on their hands that will never wash away no matter how hard they pray!

    Posted by: Mickey | Feb 8, 2012 1:29:17 PM

  8. I'm glad that Rolling Stone is putting the spotlight on these irresponsible and uncaring school administrators. I hope the school district receives a million letters from people complaining. In fact, I'll help that process along. Here's the contact forms for the Anoka-Hennepin school district (in case anyone feels like they want to express their outrage about the school's negligence):

    http://bit.ly/zPaRyG (scroll down)

    Posted by: Tyler | Feb 8, 2012 1:30:53 PM

  9. Funny how defensive a lawsuit can make a bunch of sad-assed Rethuglicans.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Feb 8, 2012 1:32:10 PM

  10. @Little. Obama is a hypocrite. He opposes marriage equality just like Santorum, buddy! At least Santorum is upfront about it. Obama lies to us using his pretty speeches, good looks and the breadcrumbs he sometimes throws our way.I truly believe he is a homophobe. Why can't he comment on his homeboy's homophobic tweet, huh?

    Posted by: Chris in SF | Feb 8, 2012 1:34:20 PM

  11. Sorry, Anoka-Hennepin school district, but as my wise granddaddy used to say: a hit dog always yelps. In your case, it won't matter how loudly you yelp in response to the RS article because the truth is the truth. You're wrong and you're gonna have to pay for it sooner or later.

    And, as to Chris' previous comment, I, too, would like facts supporting his statement that Obama is a bigger bigot than Sen. Frothy Mix. I don't get it.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Feb 8, 2012 1:37:44 PM

  12. The articvle in Rolling STone was very explicit in the direct cause of the failure to act. The Christian conservatives on the school board have tied the hands of administrators and staff to specifically disallow mentioning homosexuality. Out of sight, out of mind.

    How do you address what is happening if you can't even name it? The school is trying to avoid bad PR and lawsuits. Some priorities the school board has, good article, Rolling Stone.

    Posted by: Jonathan | Feb 8, 2012 1:38:10 PM

  13. That wasn't an answer, Chris. Try again.

    Obama opposed Prop 8 and all the similarly-styled attempts to ban LGBT couples from marrying. FACT. Obama has opposed them all.

    Santorum? supports them.

    Obama? supports LGBT couples adopting.
    Santorum? against LGBT couples adopting.

    Obama has never said derogatory or slanderous comments about the LGBT Community.

    Santorum? he says them every five minutes. a simple google search will provide the lists.

    Of course you believe he's a homophobe - you don't like black people and your parents don't like gay people and you need to parrot their nonsense to feel tolerated. it aint noble, and it makes you look like a complete dunce.

    so thanks

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 8, 2012 1:48:18 PM

  14. They also have a lawsuit filed against them, which supports the article. Not only did some teachers do nothing against the bullying. Some engaged in bully behavior themselves

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 8, 2012 1:53:57 PM

  15. @Little Kiwi. Back up! Obama opposes marriage equality. You can twist that fact anyway you want to fit your narrative. What do you mean I don't like black people?? Nice try. How about the fact that black people hate people like me!!? Instead of the 24/7 Santorum bashing, why can't we bash those people? BTW my boyfriend of 2 years happens to be black and agrees with me.

    Posted by: Chris in SF | Feb 8, 2012 2:00:04 PM

  16. Chris, not only is your "boyfriend" not black, he's not even real. You don't have a boyfriend, it's obvious.

    you even say black people hate you, then change your mind a splitsecond later because you thought you could "win" by pretending to then have a black boyfriend. even though blacks hate you. ;-) hehehehe!

    Keep living in your delusional world. It won't change the fact that your life is a lie.

    I know how sad you guys are gonna be when Obama wins a second term and LGBT Eequality comes to america. heaven forbid a black democrat do for you what your own white republican family never would.


    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 8, 2012 2:04:13 PM

  17. You don't know anything about me KIWI, so whatever.

    Posted by: Chris in SF | Feb 8, 2012 2:13:36 PM

  18. Chris SF you are a living example of the phrase "the perfect is the enemy of the good", meaning the "best" solution may end up doing less actual good than accepting a solution that, while not perfect, is effective. Obama has been the most effective Presidential advocate we have ever had, and your failure to acknowledge that is just ridiculous. LK is right - you are living in a delusional world (one that is mostly populated by right-wing freaks like our LCR and GOProud brothers).

    Posted by: antb | Feb 8, 2012 2:13:57 PM

  19. gays that say "Obama's stance on gay rights is the same as the Republicans!" are thus proving their own Stockholm Syndrom confusion.

    right. Obama and the GOP have the "same views" on LGBT Equality. Anyone who thinks that likely also thinks their GOP-voting parents respect and accept them, wholly.

    they don't. if you can't make such distinctions..... *le sighhhh*

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 8, 2012 2:19:00 PM

  20. I encourage all of you to check out www.justinsgift.org This organization helps to support the youth in this district. My husband and I just made a donation and encourage you to do the same.

    Posted by: steven | Feb 8, 2012 2:23:53 PM

  21. 1/9/12 Parents Action League of Anoka-Henepin
    demands "ex-gay therapy training" in schools

    They also want to discuss, not AIDS, but "gay-related immune deficiency"

    Posted by: jrocket | Feb 8, 2012 2:27:28 PM

  22. @chrisinsf

    Calling out Obama over his lack of support for marriage equality is a red herring. The real measure is how he has dealt with LGBT rights under his control as President and whether he has signed every LGBT rights bill passed by Congress.

    Pres. Obama has done more for LGBT equality than all his predecessors put together. He took Sec. Clinton's initiative at the State Dept. and rolled it out across all executive departments. He did a brilliant job of stage-managing the repeal of DADT. He has called on congress to repeal all or part of DOMA.

    I have been critical of Obama at many points. But he has earned my respect. I'm not hyperventilating over his inability to support and lead on marriage equality. IMO, the President has little impact on this. Most of the activity is happening at the state level and in the courts. I believe his very measurable actions as chief executive speak louder than his lack of support (so far) for marriage equality.

    Posted by: homogenius | Feb 8, 2012 3:18:22 PM


    Posted by: Fenrox | Feb 8, 2012 3:24:37 PM

  24. How in the world does an article about a homophobic atmosphere of what looks like a predominately white community turn into yet another comments war on African Americans and Obama's presidency? What is it about this site that brings out the racist trolls?

    Posted by: sugarrhill | Feb 8, 2012 4:28:00 PM

  25. The Rolling Stone article was a great one, and much needed. The school district deserves a large kick in the ass. That they have capitulated to homophobic bigots is shameful and criminal. They entire administration probably needs replacing.

    Posted by: Abel | Feb 8, 2012 7:09:04 PM

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