A group of Minnesota teens were honored in San Francisco over the weekend by the National Center For Lesbian Rights. The students asked the organization for help to file a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin school district. In March, the students reached agreement with the district to establish a comprehensive plan to combat harassment of students in the district perceived to be gay, lesbian or transgender. The only other award-winner at the event? Glee actress Jane Lynch.
The Anoka-Hennepin school district's new anti-bullying plan grew out of lawsuits that claimed schools were not doing enough on that front. Now the Justice Department says schools around the country should emulate the district.
The district agreed to pay $270,000, which will be divided among the six current and former students who brought the lawsuits, hire new staff and adopt a system to watch for and report bullying. Supporters who attended the board meeting Monday night called the decision "historic." But former Republican State Rep. Kathy Tingelstad, the lone "no" vote, stepped down from the board in protest. The Pioneer Press has details ...
The settlement applies to two lawsuits that claimed the school district failed to protect students from bullying that was based on sexual orientation. The students will receive $270,000 total. The one board member who voted against the settlement resigned after it was approved, saying it sets a bad precedent.
The district has reportedly reached a settlement deal with federal officials and will meet Monday night to vote on the agreement.
Attorneys for the school district as well as six current and former students will meet Thursday. The lawsuit claims Anoka-Hennepin didn't adequately address complaints of severe bullying.
The superintendent says the latest statement is both an acknowledgement that bullying could have been a factor in the rash of student suicides and an apology for an earlier message, which indicated there was no evidence that harassment contributed to the tragedies.
The school board voted Monday night to replace a controversial policy with a new one that they say will foster a safer and more tolerant environment for students. Critics say the district's old "neutrality" policy, which restricted teachers from addressing issues such as sexuality, left students at the mercy of bullies.
The Associated Press reports Education Minnesota overwhelmingly supports the district's new policy, which would replace the district's controversial "neutrality" rule. And the school district responds to an article in Rolling Stone magazine about the rash of suicides among gay students in the schools.
An article in Rolling Stone magazine suggests the Anoka-Hennepin school district contributed to the suicides of gay teenagers by fostering an anti-gay climate. Now the district is hitting back by criticizing the article and defending its work toward ending bullying and harassment.
District leaders are meeting Monday night to discuss a new policy on how staff members should treat a sensitive issue. The district's current policy requires that all staffers remain neutral on subjects of sexual orientation. Critics say that rule leaves students open to bullies and sexual harassment. But a second proposal didn't fare much better after it drew fire from both sides in the debate.
The district had plans to replace its current policy, which requires that staff stay neutral on topics of sexual orientation, with another set of rules that would ban teachers from advocating their personal beliefs on the subject. But after hearing a outpouring of opposition to the new proposal, the district is headed back to the drawing board again.
Teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin School District aren't happy about the old policy or a new one that could replace it. Union reps voted Monday against any policy that would dictate or limit classroom conversations on gay and lesbian issues. Some people who support the policy fear teachers otherwise would push a "gay lifestyle" on students. Critics say the policy leaves students at the mercy of harassment and bullies.