Learning the Difference Between “Neutrality” and “War on Gay Teens” in Anoka-Hennepin

When something terrible happens to a child, we feel a need to identify and punish the person to blame. But when the terrible thing that happens is suicide, it becomes much more complicated — is there anyone in particular at fault? Or is it just a senseless tragedy? In Anoka-Hennepin school district, where nine high-school age kids have killed themselves in two years, the situation seems desperate enough that everyone wants someone to hold responsible. In a heartbreaking investigation into the district’s policies on bullying and gay teens, Rolling Stone seems to have come to a very emphatic conclusion that someone is to blame for the deaths of the kids in Anoka-Hennepin — in fact, their article is entitled “One Town’s War on Gay Teens.”

via minnesotaindependent.com

We’ve reported on Anoka-Hennepin (which is, coincidentally, Michele Bachmann’s home district) before; their reluctance to allow a GSA, their policy that teachers must remain “neutral” on the topic of sexual orientation, and the the lawsuit filed by five students to end the rule. But the Rolling Stone article reveals that while many teachers and school officials seem to have been ambivalent about their actions, the school district’s failure to serve the children that they’re called to care for was so extreme as to be unbelievable.

At Blaine High School, says alum Justin Anderson, “I would hear people calling people ‘fags’ all the time without it being addressed. Teachers just didn’t respond.” In Andover High School, when 10th-grader Sam Pinilla was pushed to the ground by three kids calling him a “faggot,” he saw a teacher nearby who did nothing to stop the assault. At Anoka High School, a 10th-grade girl became so upset at being mocked as a “lesbo” and a “sinner” – in earshot of teachers – that she complained to an associate principal, who counseled her to “lay low”; the girl would later attempt suicide. At Anoka Middle School for the Arts, after Kyle Rooker was urinated upon from above in a boys’ bathroom stall, an associate principal told him, “It was probably water.” Jackson Middle School seventh-grader Dylon Frei was passed notes saying, “Get out of this town, fag”; when a teacher intercepted one such note, she simply threw it away.

The official policy of the school district required that “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.” But no one knew what it meant to remain “neutral” exactly — “No one could figure out what it meant. “What is ‘neutral’?” asks instructor Merrick-Lockett. “Teachers are constantly asking, ‘Do you think I could get in trouble for this? Could I get fired for that?’” And so when they couldn’t be sure whether saying something would mean losing their jobs, they chose to say nothing at all.  Not even “stop that,” or “leave her alone,” or “there’s nothing wrong with you.”

And while the fact that nine kids, four of whom were gay or teased for being gay, killed themselves in under two years should be cause for alarm, the fact is that isn’t the extent of it. Back in July of 2011, Anoka-Hennepin was described as a “suicide contagion” area because self-harm, depression and suicidal ideation seemed to spread among the children at school like an actual disease. These were kids who, gay or straight, had lost friends and peers at an age where in a perfect world they wouldn’t even understand what mortality really was yet. And whose community was watching it happen with their hands held up in the air, claiming that while it was all very sad it had nothing to do with them. In an environment where verbal abuse and assault of kids were normal and unobjectionable, suicide started to seem normal as well.

Every time a loudspeaker crackled in class, kids braced themselves for the feared preamble, “We’ve had a tragic loss.” Students spoke in hushed tones; some wept openly in the halls. “It had that feeling of a horror movie – everyone was talking about death,” says one 16-year-old student who broke down at Anoka High School one day and was carted off to a psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation.Over the course of the 2010-2011 school year, 700 students were evaluated for serious mental-health issues, including hospitalizations for depression and suicide attempts. Kids flooded school counselors’ offices, which reported an explosion of children engaging in dangerous behaviors like cutting or asphyxiating each other in the “choking game.”

 Anoka-Hennepin now has a GSA in every middle and high school, but the question of what the district’s official policy on discussions of homosexuality will be is still up in the air. The “neutrality” policy has fallen under harsh criticism, and the lawsuit filed by five Anoka-Hennepin students questions its legality. At one point the district attempted to replace it with the Controversial Topics Curriculum Policy, which required teachers to keep their personal opinions out of any classroom discussion of “controversial topics,” but this was roundly criticized by conservatives as being too liberal and by gay activists as leaving too much room for anti-gay propaganda. They are expected to go instead with the Respectful Learning Environment Curriculum Policy. The school board has yet to recognize or acknowledge the harm that the “neutrality policy” has caused. When a GSA meeting of 19 kids was polled, only two said they felt safe in school.

Teachers’ union president Blaha, who calls the district’s behavior throughout this ordeal “irrational,” speculates that the district’s stupefying denial is a reaction to the terrible notion that they might have played a part in children’s suffering, or even their deaths: “I think your mind just reels in the face of that stress and that horror. They just lost their way.”

TAMMY AABERG, WITH A PHOTO OF HER SON JUSTIN (MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel)

Throughout the tragic narrative of one child after another being found dead in their homes, one common thread runs clear through it: the fear of backlash from conservative evangelical forces if anyone was thought to be showing “personal support for GLBT people.” It’s unclear what evangelical forces were at work, exactly — within Rolling Stone’s coverage, there’s mention of Barb Anderson, an anti-gay religious crusader; Exodus International, which ran a yearly “Day of Truth” about homosexuality in school; the Minnesota Family Council, who blamed gay kids’ suicide on the mental unhealthiness of a gay lifestyle; and the Parents Action League, who wrote Rolling Stone that “Because homosexual activists have hijacked and exploited teen suicides for their moral and political utility, much of society seems not to be looking closely and openly at all the possible causes of the tragedies,” including mental illness.” How did such a bizarre constellation of people become such a threat that children’s lives were lost so that they wouldn’t have to have their sensibilities offended? In light of the rash of suicides, teachers were advised that acceptably “neutral” responses to anti-gay slurs included “That language is unacceptable in this school,” or  “In this school we are required to welcome all people and to make them feel safe.” Who are we so afraid of that we can’t even say out loud that calling someone a dyke and suggesting they kill themselves is absolutely wrong? How can there be anything scarier or worse than Justin Aaberg’s mother breaking into her son’s bedroom to find he had hanged himself on his futon frame? How is it that there’s anything we’re not willing to do or any stand we’re not willing to take if we know that might be the consequence?

There are many factors that contribute to teen suicide, and there are a lot of reasons why the rate of attempted suicide for gay kids is more than twice that of straight ones. And problems of educational environments and how to protect kids from each other are never easy to solve. But the fact of the matter remains that a reactionary and faith-based community of extremists have managed to make the culture war around sexual orientation so fierce and so bloody that many people, in some places a majority of people, feel like they can’t risk taking a side in it. Not even when the lives of the children in their own communities, the children they are in part charged with caring for, are at stake. And the anti-gay extremists aren’t confined to Minnesota; the same narrative is playing out every time an adult role model is too scared to come out, or a company is afraid to support equality because they might suffer backlash. Aside from making our own lives miserable, anti-gay groups have succeeded in making it dangerous for other people to even want to help us. It took nine deaths, innumerable hospitalizations and the intervention of the Southern Poverty Law Center for even minor, incremental change in Anoka-Hennepin. What’s it going to take for the conversation to stop being about angering powerful bigots and start being about doing what’s right? Seventeen kids sitting on a linoleum floor who didn’t say a word when asked if they felt safe in school would like to know.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 746 articles for us.

46 Comments

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    Hold up. Hold up. “Over the course of the 2010-2011 school year, 700 students were evaluated for serious mental-health issues, including hospitalizations for depression and suicide attempts.”

    That is so scary. I don’t even know how to deal with a number that large. IN A YEAR. I can’t even process what that would look like.

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    I am in shock! How is this ok, how can anyone think “neutrality” is working when faced with such tragedy?! I recently moved to the twin cities and can’t believe something like this has been happening so close to me. I want to help. Is anyone else in this area and know of any organizations trying to combat this? After a quick google search I can’t seem to find any support organizations in that area to volunteer at, but I will keep looking…..

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    i just. i can’t. i’m so frustrated and angry and sad. how do we live in a world where people can’t see the hurt that they are causing, the loss of innocent lives, and just shut the fuck up at the very least. christ, if you can’t be supportive then just keep your bigoted ass beliefs to yourself! i know i’m preaching to the choir, but i just don’t even know what to do with this shit anymore.

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    Two questions:

    1. Do you think (AHSD 11 alum or not) that a petition along the lines of ‘I went to ________ School and this policy (did/would have) hurt me.’ would have an impact?

    2. Do you think the adult voices of former students (most of whom have moved out of the district) could realistically join and be on par with the voices of parents in this debate?

    I grew up in this school district, and I’m wondering if the voices of alumni could make a difference in this situation. Even before the neutrality policy, there was a rule that banned the promotion of homosexuality, and so the policies have affected students since 1995, so there’s got to be a large number of alums who feel strongly about this.

    If anyone knows of groups that are already organizing among alums, please let me know.

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      There was a discussion at my college about anti-bullying efforts in Minnesota and one of the questions that came up in the Q&A session was basically “What can we, as college students, do about the situation in high schools?” And the people presenting said that speaking with the principal, going to school board meetings, etc. makes a huge difference. Just telling your story and what it was like for you can have a big influence.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know of any organizations that are working with alums to do this sort of thing. I think it’s mostly something that people who’ve gone to these schools organize among themselves.

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      I hope you do become a teacher.

      I am a teacher. I teach elementary school, and I teach them to stand up for what is right, to embrace diversity, and to help put an end to discrimination. We role-play situations (they love this) so that they can practice how to respond. They learn that staying silent when someone is bullying/harrassing another or when using discriminatory language means you are culpable. One cannot stay silent or neutral when the basic dignity of another is being destroyed.

      Yes, they do internalize this. I have had numerous students come back to me when they are in junior high and/or high school and tell me that I would be proud of them. They then relate how they stood up to a teacher who was bashing gays in a religion class (Catholic school), commented when people said, “that’s so gay” and told them why it was wrong, stopped someone who was bullying another, etc. I am thankful and grateful that I chose this career and that the lessons I wanted them to learn about diversity, etc., are still embraced by them many years later.

      By the way, I can get fired for being gay, and I can get fired for teaching students to stand up to homophobia, as I am not “supposed” to be “pro-gay.” I do what is right, just, moral, and ethical, regardless of the possibility of losing my job.

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    I read the Rolling Stone article in its entirety a few hours ago, and I’m still reeling from it. As an educator, your top priority should not be your job security. Yeah, the economy is terrible, the job market is terrible…the spike in teen suicides is terrible too. It’s a sad day when your paycheck comes before the lives of the kids you’re supposed to not only educate, but protect. I lay more blame on the school board, though, for enforcing such a ridiculous policy–the most blame goes to the evangelical group(s) in the community, of course. Where the hell do you think all this pressure comes from in the first place?

    It’s laughable–in a dry, sad way–that the major evangelical group in the area responsible for the neutrality policy has less than two dozen members. It’s like when the Wizard of Oz, who had control over an enormous population, turns out to be a powerless person hiding behind a screen. When does it stop?

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      I respectfully disagree that because my chosen profession is as an educator, it requires me to prioritize others before my own needs. I am not a soldier, a police officer, or a member of religious orders. I have not taken an oath of poverty or to serve or protect. Repeat your sentence with any other profession, “As a _____, your top priority should not be your job security,” and it seems less self-evident. Yes, we as teachers are responsible for your child’s education and safety. But, to imply that teachers are somehow selfish or morally deficient to worry about their job security is unfair. Yes, these teachers should have done something or said something. But I can’t fault them for being hesitant to risk their livelihood to try and single-handedly battle such a pervasive problem.

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        “But I can’t fault them for being hesitant to risk their livelihood to try and single-handedly battle such a pervasive problem.”

        I agree. I think it’s unfair to ask teachers to put their economic security on the line and plainly state that they’re horrible people if they don’t. I don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors in that school district, I simply don’t. I imagine it could be mighty terrifying to be told, as a teacher, that if you say anything, the school administration has the power to make sure you never get another job in the county again. I mean, faced with that type of economic blackmail, what would you do? I don’t know what I would do, truthfully — and I think admitting that doesn’t mean I’m amoral or insensitive to what’s happening here. I think it’s easy to take a principled stance and say that one ought to protest and not take that type of behavior, to pick fights with administration and stand up for your beliefs, but when you live in a country where losing your job might also mean losing your access to health care, we’re talking about something people might not feel safe battling on their own.

        Maybe these teachers did say something, and were then threatened by their supervisors at work if they ever did it again. I don’t know, and I can’t say. I know personally that people stay in horrific situations, and do things they never thought they’d in a million years do, because they lack economic independence.

        I’m sorry. I just realized I got kind of rant-y, and I want to reiterate that I believe this situation is appalling and I wish the grown-ups were able to put a stop to this. Bullying is 100% unacceptable, and schools should be fostering safe spaces where students can learn, and express themselves.

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        As a society in the US, we pile SO many expectations on teachers that we don’t on most other professions; we expect perfection, we demand accountability, we ask for things that are so far out of the job description that it isn’t funny, and we expect all that for a salary that can barely support a small family if that.

        I have several family members who are educators; I have so much respect for what they do and put up with, because it’s so obvious every day how much they care about doing the right thing by their students.

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    Thanks for this Rachel, and for drawing attention to that Rolling Stones article. I didn’t realize how bad the situation in MN truly was until reading. It’s so sad. Sam, Justin and the others seemed like amazing, inspiring people, which makes it even worse (if that’s possible…)

    It also got me thinking- how much of this is happening elsewhere, and not being reported? The Midwest in general can be a horrible place to grow up gay (my experience is mainly with Oklahoma). I can say for sure that the conservative/evangelical climate, if not the particular rash of ‘suicide hysteria’, is present in a lot of the plains states and the South. And officially or unofficially I would bet that that ‘No Homo Promo’ policy has counterparts elsewhere. Suicide, murders, and bullying based on sexual orientation, etc, haven’t been statistically counted in the absence of hate-crime/ anti-bullying legislation in a lot of these states.

    Just my depressing $0.02!

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    As terrible as this is, I feel the need to point out that Anoka-Hennepin is not representative of Minnesota as a whole or of the Midwest as a whole. Considering this “the MN situation” isn’t really an accurate statement. There are places in MN that are incredibly gay friendly, just as there are places that are not at all gay friendly.

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      Totally understand- I should rather have said the Anoka-Hennepin situ. I’m sure the twin cities among others are pretty great. Likewise I was lucky enough to go to high school in a major city in OK, which wasn’t all bad- there was recourse to GLBT organizations outwith school. But the rural parts of these states ‘in general’, as well as some towns/cities, can be pretty terrible.

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    Another brilliant article from Rachel. The Rolling Stone article gave me so many feelings, mainly about how badly the school had failed those kids. It’s not neutral to stand aside and let kids get constantly bullied. It’s not neutral to do nothing in the face of 9 suicides in two years.

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    “How did such a bizarre constellation of people become such a threat that children’s lives were lost so that they wouldn’t have to have their sensibilities offended?”

    This. This is the jumbled thought that was trying to gather itself in my head when I read the Rolling Stone article earlier this evening but could not fully form because I was too busy trying not to cry/punch a wall.

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    I read that article yesterday and felt utterly compelled to blog about it… (http://totalqueerity.tumblr.com/post/16999752198/michele-bachmanns-home-district-is-a-frightening-place)
    and spread the word. I even tweeted the link to it to Team Bachmann. I think that the legislation this school runs under is a threat to democracy and a human rights issue.

    Every queer website/blog seems to be covering this right now, and it is no coincidence that this is Bachmann’s Home district. She is so barmy. And her daughter is really hot. Omg, autostraddle yall should do a post on how hot her daughter is! Just for the giggle.

    The article is extraordinary and I really recommend that everyone reads it… It’s a fantastic piece of narrative journalism.

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    this is so much how i feel, as a teenaged queer girl. i need to remember that there are parts of the u.s./world that aren’t like this, and all the commenters who are shocked but the way this school has acted give me hope. :)

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    I was having this conversation about teens being assholes but their parents are actually nice people translating that kids can act/feel independently on LBGT people and issues, kinda like Family Ties but fucked up and sociopathic. At least where I am from (DC suburb) that the parents are nice but the teen is a raging ass.

    Example I know a single mom that is pro-gay but her son (who is 15) for some reason hates LBGT people/minorities. While I was volunteering he said a lot of racial, anti-gay and anti-trans things to some of the members and I confronted the mom about it and she was HORRIFIED. At first I did not believe her and I thought she wanted to save her ass to not look like “bad person” but she was really upset at what her son was saying. She admitted that with working she does not communicate with her son as much, plus he is “at the stage where who does not want anything to do with me.” I believed her, I do hope it was a phase because other times I volunteered other members came to me to complain.

    I don’t know, sometimes I’m like “kids need direction blah blah” but I do feel that some will never get it and will continue to harm people regardless of what people say to influence more positive behaviors. I fear that this kid is “one of those people” and I do not have the patience for it. I tried getting the program director to make him go away but 1) I have done it already but he is still here and 2)he will do this elsewhere to other teens.

    Reading the Rolling Stone article the situation makes me frustrated and angry. It puts a fire in my belly that if I see bullshit like that I hope I am calm enough to meet them with not my fucking fists. I was bullied for being different and ostracized and it is stories like this are just triggering. Instead of having panic attacks I literally get a rage on, maybe to compensate for the time I didn’t fight back or stand up for myself.

    Straddlers, I don’t need my grown ass to beat down some teen but still, the anger of it all is sometimes so much, like now after reading this and dealing with that kid who just loves to make people cry, push them to harm themselves and then I read that horrifying article on Rolling Stones. Ugh.

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    Maybe I’m being naive, but it seems to me that neutrality = separation of church and state + holding students, teachers, administrators, and parents responsible for refusing to tolerate a hostile school environment for any kid. This sort of shit would never be tolerated in a decent workplace; why masses of parents think it’s ok to subject their kids to it for 6 consecutive years astounds me.

    The passivity of all the adults who watched this happening is shameful. I hope there’s a concerted effort to get rid of the school board and anyone else complicit in this debacle.

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      To be fair, the “neutrality policy” doesn’t appear to have been common knowledge; while most of this was happening, students didn’t know it was in place, and so it would seem like their parents might not have either.

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        I understand that parents and students did not know why the hostile environment was being tolerated by the teachers/administration. That’s no reason to accept it as status quo / normal. Where was the outrage? Why weren’t parents holding the administration accountable and rooting out the cause? Why weren’t they committed to insuring that EVERY young person was safe at school? Multiple suicides and 100s of students so at risk that they require hospitalization / treatment merited nothing more than hand wringing and excuses? “We investigated our actions and determined that we have been blameless/ beyond reproach”. “Ok, I guess there’s nothing to do.”

        Imagine the same scenario in reverse: when the Christian kids walked down corridors, numbers of kids made bleating noises and comments about how the blind sheep were lost / mindless / incapable of rational or critical thought / unable to know what to do without someone in their church telling them how to think and act. These “sheep” are periodically stuffed in lockers / tossed in garbage bins / locked in bathroom stalls because everyone knows sheep need to be penned; and, of course, these kids are manhandled periodically so the bullies can cut off shanks of hair from their heads because sheep need to be shorn regularly

        In this scenario I’m guessingn that the neutrality policy would’ve been abandoned or interpreted very differently; that no one wouldve been counseled to “lay low”; that the parents would’ve been in an uproar almost immediatelyr; and that there would’ve been a concreted, district-wide effort to protect the students within months instead of years; and wouldn’t still be trapped in policy paralysis even after a year of negative / unflattering national press and the threat of civil,lawsuits.

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    i actually just read this off someone sharing it on facebook a couple minutes ago, and i just have to say this article is so heartbreaking. having grown up in an ultra biblebelt county the south until my 2nd year of highschool, while i wasn’t really self aware of my orientation when i lived there so the crap i heard wasnt exactly internalized to the same degree, i can honestly say that for those people who WERE percieved (there were like..less than 5 out/known gay kids out out of like 1000 students) it was living hell and you could totally see the psychological damage it was causing them. then i moved to montreal (which is ultra socially liberal and no one batted an eye about someone being gay), and i haven’t taken it for granted since.

    it is so fucked up.

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    This is an easy one.

    Remember Pol Pot, the despot in Cambodia who led the Khmer Rouge on its killing spree? Well, he had a meme. His meme was a specific strain of Communism that went viral and began the destruction of its very own body. It’s similar to Ebola or other viruses that are so virulent that they eventually destroy their host.

    Well, in Michele’s district they have a viral form of Christianity that is destroying its host, too. It’s a strain of Christianity that doesn’t allow for ANY DIFFERENCES other than those demanded by those who say they’re in authority.

    What you have in that district isn’t just suicide. You have other deadly, bizarre and torturous personal behaviors that go along with how those kids are treating each other. Families there are horribly affected by this meme. It’s not just the children who are at the receiving end of this bizarre behavior. Eventually, it will become well-known that the people who live there are violent to others in all sorts of ways that defy logic. Family values, indeed. I will be LAUGHING when this story breaks open.

    Viral religious memes are some of the most insidious memes on the planet. MN is allowing the worst human behavior to exist because of a particularly nasty religious meme.

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    I have never, ever seen such scary numbers in my life. Not only matters the fact that 9 people died, but it also matters the fact that seven HUNDRED people were treated for mental instability; that only means that while 9 is what actually is, 700 is what COULD have been, what CAN be from now on… it’s almost like a disease as you said, and I can’t imagine how an environment has to be to make that amount of people act or feel like that.

    It’s a full-blown war, you cannot just say that it has to do with many factors and that those who say that there’s an actual problem are overreacting, MUCH LESS say they are committing suicide because of the unhealthy gay lifestyle, pardon my french but WHAT THE F*CK? it’s like saying that people commits suicide because they aren’t Christian and thus they live a wrong lifestyle, for example.

    We’re not even dealing with the gay teen suicide only, but with teen suicide in general! something must be going on in that place then, no one can say that it is a perfectly normal place if out of almost 40.000 students almost 1000 have been treated for such reasons; 1000 people out of 40.000 considers or attempts suicide, when the overall teen suicide rate in the U.S. would be 7 for every 100.000 a year!! it’s ridiculous, what kind of place is that?

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    I have never, ever seen such scary numbers in my life. Not only matters the fact that 9 people died, but it also matters the fact that seven HUNDRED people were treated for mental instability; that only means that while 9 is what actually is, 700 is what COULD have been, what CAN be from now on… it’s almost like a disease as you said, and I can’t imagine how an environment has to be to make that amount of people act or feel like that.
    It’s a full-blown war, you cannot just say that it has to do with many factors and that those who say that there’s an actual problem are overreacting, MUCH LESS say they are committing suicide because of the unhealthy gay lifestyle, pardon my french but WHAT THE F*CK? it’s like saying that people commits suicide because they aren’t Christian and thus they live a wrong lifestyle, for example.
    We’re not even dealing with the gay teen suicide only, but with teen suicide in general! something must be going on in that place then, no one can say that it is a perfectly normal place if out of almost 40.000 students almost 1000 have been treated for such reasons; 1000 people out of 40.000 considers or attempts suicide, when the overall teen suicide rate in the U.S. would be 7 for every 100.000 a year!! it’s ridiculous, what kind of place is that?

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    First of all–Mazel Tov, Rachel on a great article.

    I am a Minnesotan and I love where I grew up. I think I can answer just about any Minnesota trivia question (our state muffin is the blueberry muffin…why yes, I did use muffin because it’s a euphemism).
    The Anoka-Hennepin school district situation is one of the few times in my life that I am ashamed of my state (other times include, but are not limited to, the gay marriage amendment that will be on the ballot this fall, the state government shut down and the re-election of Tim Pawlenty…gee, I wonder whether you can guess my politics). The Twin Cities area is a wonderful place to be a queer. I wish that could be said about other parts of the state. I grew up in a Twin Cities suburb and homophobic harassment was not tolerated. It occurred, but it was usually dealt with in an effective manner.

    I continue to work with high school students and most of them are wonderful, accepting individuals. I just wanted to comment because I wanted to say 1. I am appalled, as a citizen of Minnesota, about the Anoka-Hennepin situation. 2. I’m glad the media is finally getting a grip on this story (we Minnesotans have known about this for awhile and have tried to get it into general circulation). 3. I want everyone to know that Minnesota is not some horrible, awful state. There are a lot of wonderful resources that are available to LGBT youth–I benefitted from many of them as a teenager…I’m more than willing to talk to LGBTQ2IA folks from the Midwest about it. 4. There are Minnesotans out there (myself included) who are dedicated to eradicating this problem and are working for positive change in the hopes of bettering our state. 5. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE if you are Minnesotan, call your state rep/senator/Dayton’s office to urge legislative action.

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    Another example of a gross misapplication of a rule.

    Stay neutral should have clearly been interpreted as not to seem “Pro-Straight” or “Pro-Gay” and not to take any obvious position as to what is moral, right, or correct.

    Stay neutral SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INTERPRETED as let kids be harassed, bullied, made fun of, mocked, and harmed – both physically and emotionally – and do nothing.

    Only the most stupid among us would interpret those words in that manner. It’s a shame that some of the stupidest among us teach our children.

    As a side note, extremism comes in both forms. Just as it is hard being a gay teen in that town it is similarly difficult being a conservative or traditional-valued young adult on most major University campuses.

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