Posted: 1:33 pm MDT October 12, 2011Updated: 4:36 pm MDT October 12, 2011
A success story related to LGBT students seems to always be followed by a, "but." The success experienced by Jared Pettingill in finding a school where he wouldn't be harassed by bullies for being gay has worked out for him. Strangely enough, it's right next to the infamous Anoka-Hennepin School District (just outside the Twin Cities) that made headlines in recent years after seven students committed suicide between November 2009 and May 2011. It's also the home district of presidential hopeful, Michele Bachmann.
In January, the school board district where Jared is now attending unanimously passed a unique resolution instructing administrators to track bullying incidents related to the harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. The measure also requires all staff to be trained on LGBT issues. It injects LGBT topics into the curriculum, which includes adding an LGBT component to sex ed. They will eventually add an elective high school course on LGBT history.
This sounds like progress finally being made in the "war against bullying." But, several miles away and in the midst of Bachmann's efforts to thwart such acceptance, the controversy is not so clear. The district's curriculum policy, adopted in 2009, bars teachers from taking a position on homosexuality in the classroom and says such matters are best addressed outside of school. It's become known as the neutrality policy. Anoka-Hennepin, which encompasses the Twin Cities' northwestern suburbs and is the state's largest school district, is the only Minnesota school district known to have such a policy.