Anoka Parents Protest Treatment Of LGBT Students

ANOKA, Minn. (WCCO) — Parents and students packed the Anoka Hennepin School Board meeting Monday tonight to express their concerns about harassment and bullying, especially of LGBT students.

“Things need to change,” said Tammy Aaberg, whose son, Justin, committed suicide last July. Aaberg said her son, who was openly gay, was bullied at school.

“They need to rescind the neutrality policy and get these teachers training,” Aaberg said.

Aaberg joined about 100 other people to protest the district’s refusal to create a safe learning environment for all students.

Among those in attendance were straight allies. Student Mike Thurston spoke out in support of changing the district’s policy. Thurston said he has been bullied at school and thinks the only way to stop it is to change the district’s policy, which does not allow teachers to address sexual orientation.

“So that they don’t get the wrong idea or too scared or not knowing,” Thurston explained. “Hopefully it gets some teacher training to as far as being able to talk to students about this issue.”

The school board would not comment, but it did distribute a three-page letter outlining the steps the district has taken to address the issues of harassment and bullying.

  • Victim Du Jour

    Activism does not belong in schools either, harassment and bully policies are suppose to protect all students, not just BLTers.

    • Andrea

      Given the suicide rate of LGBTQ kids in that district, their current policy is NOT WORKING. They need to change. Not talking about an issue doesn’t make it go away. “Neutrality” is really promotion of the status quo, which translates to bullying and harrasment for kids who are or are perceived as gay or bi or trans.

      • Victim Du Jour

        For many years it has been a policy by the media not to report suicides.

        Teen suicide effects all walks of life, not just gay students. Public Schools and drugs cause teen suicide more than anything.

        Gay teen suicide does not give the gay community a blank check to push pro-gay Jim Crow like supremacy policies.

      • Misty

        Self esteem issues that may lead to suicide are prevalent amongst all children. GLBT do not deserve extra protection. Bullying is terrible and is just a common for kids who are too short, too tall, too heavy, too skinny, have freckles, have acne, have braces, praise the wrong god, speak with the wrong accent, wear clothes too tight, wear clothes too loose, don’t have a car, don’t have a cell phone, live on the wrong street, listen to the wrong music…I’m sure you get my point. By wasting so much time and resources fighting for extra protection the GLBTers are actually distracting and taking resources away from protecting all of our students. Yes I am saying they are doing more harm than good. Again, parents are somewhat to blame here. One of our responsibilities is to make our children feel comfortable in their own skin.

      • Martha H

        Well said.

      • sophi

        i’m afraid your assumptions that this problem is equally affecting all students shows the underwhelming amount of research you’ve done on this topic.

    • Victim Du Jour

      Your post only validates my point, people like you are not above bully policies either.

      14th amendment prohibits the government from giving BLTers special protection.

      Gays who bully non-gay students with activism are suppose to be punished too.

      • Dale

        Nobody is asking for “special protection”. Since when is activism asking for equality a punishable offense? According to your “logic” Martin Luther king Jr. and Ghandi would be considered bullies and should have been punished. Please stop the hate.

      • Ron

        Where in the 14th Amendment did you read that the government is prohibited from giving GLBT PEOPLE special protection?

        GLBT people don’t BULLY non-GLBT people with activism either. The GLBT people are doing nothing other than sticking up for themselves…

        • Victim Du Jour

          Gays are bullies too, check out the Madonna movie “Truth or Dare”. Her Gay dancers are bullying a newbie dancer.

          14th amendment has an equal protection clause, it says laws must protect everyone the same or they are not valid.

      • Mike

        Validate? We all know YOU only represent YOU because YOU are a self centered, selfish, sociopath.

      • sophi

        @VictimDuJour first, that was a music video. and it sounds like it showed hazing. which is a separate issue and is prevalent in most organized groups to some degree.

        and establishing programs that address bullying based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity protects us all. you don’t have to be a member of the lgbt community to find yourself at the receiving end of a violent anti-gay attack.

        and considering that the lgbt community is being hit the hardest by bullying it makes sense to focus attention on them.

    • Proud A-H Mom

      As someone who lives in the A-H district, but not in Bachmann’s district, I take great offense at your characterization. Yes, it is a conservative area, and yes, it’s a heavily Christian area. But it’s not full of hate. Just like any other area, we have adults who are extremists — on both sides — and that rubs off on the kids. But it’s getting better. The fact that parents DID show up at the school board meeting makes my point that your post is nothing but angry slander.

      • Truth Hurts

        To: Proud A-H Mom
        I have to laugh…. You made sure you noted that your not in Bachmann’s District, but in the same breath your offended by some of the characterizations of this school district being narrow minded and conservative!
        You’re right, this is a conservative area, so it’s fair to say there are more conservative extremists whose behavior and attitude is a mind set for others, which sometimes rubs off on the children…..
        Hats off to the parents and students who are taking a stand against all bullying and harasement!

        • betty

          TRUTH HURTS definitely is not in the A-H district or you would have been taught how to spell properly.

    • LeAnn

      And how often does this happen other than in your head? And just because someone is gay does NOT mean they’re child molestors like you’re insinuating.

  • oldengoat

    Sorry to burst your bubble but it is genetic.I have a lot of gay friends and it is patently obvious that being gay is genetic. Your idea that ” good patents” turn out only straight kids is ridiculous. You also probably believe that you can pray the gay away.

  • Liberalcrat

    You dont want to know. Me and my friends get together and do thing that normal people would never do.

  • Jeff

    The sooner people (children) learn life isn’t fair, the better off they’ll be. We can’t expect schools (the government) to protect them from everything. It’s not possible. I was bullied for being gay from the 6th grade to 9th grade for being gay, I’m not, nor was I. It was hard at times, even painful. I’m now 37 married with a wonderful three year old. My point is, I lived, it helped make me who I am today. No, bullying is not right, It is however part of life. A side note for Tiller’s Revenge. You want to end harasement. Read your own post, who are you harrassing? Is it O.K. as long as you don’t agree with the other parties view? If harrasment by and to our children is going to end, the adults have to stop first.-

    • Victim Du Jour

      I look back at my highschool years and now I am glad I felt out of place.

      You are so right, bully laws are like someone helping a chick hatch from it’s egg shell.

      Then the chick doesn’t develop it’s muscles properly, becomes weak and dies from being helped, when it was important for it to struggle it’s way out of the eggshell.

      Marijuana and Drugs are confusing and hurting children in schools more than bullying.

      • sophi

        there’s a difference between feeling out of place, and feeling like you have no place and never will.

        but sure. lets teach our kids that bullying is an appropriate way to socialize. they’ll grow out of it anyways.

  • Really?!

    Bahahahaha! This comment actually made me laugh. Doesn’t make a bit of sense. Does this mean anyone on welfare or other forms of assistance are “doomed” to having gay kids?

  • Me

    What century or backwards country are you from? I know quite a few gay people who have wonderful parents, so that nullifies your statement.

  • Timothy J Clark

    I was born this way……

  • Samuel

    I cannot believe what some people are posting on here and are actually serious. I’m 17, and am openly gay. Justin was a friend of mine, and I was devastated by his death. Him and I didn’t go to the same school, however. I go to a high school I a different school district, and we have policies that include protections of LGBT students in antibullying rules. It is not the place of a school to push an anti- or pro-LGBT agenda. It is, however, the duty of a school to create a safe, welcoming learning environment for ALL students. Justin never did a thing to his harassers. They went out of their way to make his Life miserable. Who is wrong on this situation? Will we condone bullying because we don’t necessarily agree with how someone expresses themselves? The people clearly at fault are the people that did the bullying and the people that allowed it. That is, the disrespectful bigots and the school. I know many teachers in the A-H school district, and they are some of the most caring educators I know, but their hands are tied when it comes to dealing with bullying of LGBT students. It is rare to hear someone say “that’s so gay” or use the f– word in my school. There isn’t a tolerance for it. There should never be a tolerance for it.

    Justin’s death was the direct cause of the harassers’ actions, the school district’s apathy, the lack of resources and support outside his home, and the teachers’ fear of termination. We’re not condemning A-H to hell, like some of the above comments are doing for LGBT persons. That will not bring Justin back. We want the policies to change so no more people die a very preventable and needless death.

    • Andrea

      Samuel, you are awesome. Stay strong, and remember comments sections like these are disproportionately full of nasty, ignorant people because anonymity makes bigots bold.

      • St Paul

        Andrea – thank you for your loving response. I only wish more comments like yours would be posted on articles like this. I’m gay and so is my roommate. We are both in our late 50’s and have seen it all ad far as biggotry and hate. I do see most folks growing in their hearts to be kind and even realize that they have a friend or relative that is gay and has struggled. But there are always those whe post hate filled religious, political or certain races teachings that being gay is a sin in the eyes of God. But no one can answer this one question: if being born gay why are there so many out gay folks having great lives and doing wonderful things for society? Not a norm for earthly “devils”.

    • cherie cullum

      My heart goes out to you. I am ashamed of my fellow Minnesotans writing such hate to a group of people, especially our children.

    • Mark

      I agree, I was a victim of bullying in school, not even for GLBT issues, so I can’t imagine how much harder that is to deal with. Teachers would look the other way during the taunting and attacks mostly. When things were reported nothing changed. I told the principle in 7th grade the reason I never reported it is that the adults in charge didn’t seem to have any interest in making school a disciplined environment. He asked me what I would like done about the issue. I told him I didn’t think there was anything he could do, to which he said that I was being negative, then proceeded to do exactly that, nothing. It didn’t end until I began responding with violence… That was an awful lesson to learn and one I’ve had to grow out of. Violence may seem like an answer, but it ruins you inside.

      “Life is hard” isn’t an answer. “Deal with it” is not an answer. Growing up is the answer, the school districts need to learn they have a responsibility to create a disciplined environment by use of detention, suspension or expulsion. Also teacher’s need to be disciplined for looking the other way. This kind of behavior is not tolerated one iota in a professional workplace, why in the world should schools be so different. Why is it 0 tolerance on violence, but 100% tolerance for psychological abuse?

    • Misty

      I am sorry for your loss. But have to ask, do GLBT kids deserve more protection than overweight kids? Or kids with terrible acne? I believe most are in agreement that bullying should not be tolerated, and most are saying that the “extra” status that GLBTers are asking for is unreasonable.

      • Dale

        Nobody is saying that the LGBT communities are asking for “extra” status. Furthermore, those communities are not asking for more protection. Comparing LGBT youth to those who have “terrible acne” is ridiculous. Can you name one person with “terrible acne” who has been told that because of their acne that they are going to hell, getting kicked out of their house, fired from their job, and then committed suicide?
        GLBT youth are asking to be treated the same as their straight peers. No more. No less.

      • Concerned adult

        The other kids are not any safer in any of the areas not monitored by adults. The Policy is the problem, the wording of the Neutrality policy is STOPPING kids from talking to their teachers, staff and other adults, as they are being rushed out of their classes and taken to counselors. The school board is blatantly saying that the teenagers WHO HAVE committed suicide were not bullied because it was not documented. This is not an office where people work, this is a school setting, where kids who dont report abuse are suffering. ANY SUICIDE IS HORRIBLE, THIS IS NOT A GLBT AGENDA. The problem is, overweight kids, people of color, gender are all circumstances you can physically see. Being a closeted gay student is not always so obvious. Having people constantly harass and make anti gay statements are not always necessarily directed at the youth, but they feel it is. The Neutrality policy needs to go or be worded so that EVERYONE can feel safe to report or speak on issues they need help with, to create support networks that can help them grow up.

      • Mark

        They do deserve more protection, because they are more vulnerable. If you think overweight kids are victimized as extensively as GLBT students, you are very out of touch with the issue. They don’t want to be treated special, just equal, as they are being treated less equal than most, even other bullied children, they need more attention to the issue. Society and many religions treat GLBT as a sin beyond normal sins, which invalidates you as a person.

      • StarR

        How many have commented on here that overweight people are going to hell? People are not necessarily close-minded about students over weight, have acne, wear glasses, etc. Do they get teased, sure, but not the extent of GLBT students. GLBT acceptance needs to be discussed specifically. You do not need to agree with it, but you need to be respectful of those students.

  • Mark from

    I don’t care if your gay, white, black, yellow, bi, whatever if you are picked on and you don’t like it. Do something, go to the store and buy some ball$ and stand up for yourself. Don’t have another person or group do it for you

    • Dale

      So what you are doing is blaming the victims and not the bullies. Very sad.

      • Mark from

        You figured that out all by yourself?

    • Todd W. Olson

      In short, you believe that those who are weak, mild or timid deserved to be persecuted.

    • Michael Seeman

      Thats what the kids at Columbine did… No body particularly cared for the outcome. Report the issues when they happen, that’s all that can help these kids. The neutrality policy is NOT helping anyone.

    • repp

      Very well said, Mark. No group or lawsuit will ever stop bullying, standing up for yourself is the only way to fight back.

  • Enough

    To “victim du jour”, if you are gonna to use a french acronym, you should name yourself, “victime du jour”, but you probably were sleeping through class…..
    As far as all the other “non haters, I am a Christian, but not you, and other apologist of violence” who pose as victim of a so called “gay agenda”, please don’t make me laugh…. listening to you is like reading a psychologist report on self dilusion, denial and insecurities…….
    Finally to Red, does your name mean you are a commie? And what the heck are you doing bringing your children in a filthy bathroom in the first place. As for the proverbial gay man lurking in the bathroom for anonymous sex, it has been shown over and over again, that the individuals who usually participate in these reprehensible acts. are self-loathing closeted bi-males who have not yet accepted themselves as who they are, and are too ashamed to be in an open private relationship.
    Yes Anoka county, has a conservative population, but most people leaving there are honest hard working people, just like most gay people and their families also living in that county. Perhaps it is time for all to understand that letting some extremist control their school district, based on their political and religious narrow point of view arm the children of their district both gay and straight, this is not acceptable. The courageous parents of these students are honoring their children by not allowing silence and fear to rule the night.

  • Melissa Thompson

    Is that you Mrs. Thompson?? (no relation) If this was supposed to be funny it sure wasn’t. This way of thinking may protect “you” from seeing homosexuality but it does nothing to change the fact the homosexuality exists and that it is nothing more than a human trait much like height or eye color. “Good parents” don’t teach their kids to hate or judge, “good parents” have faith in their children not religions that protect children…but ONLY while they are in the womb, once they walk their protection ends as evidenced by this and the way many churches sacrificed children to the “true devients” hiding behind pulpits all over the world. Folks like you preach the bible and wave the constitution in the faces of those who teach and preach tolerance…….when it is painfully obvious you’ve not read EITHER!

  • Albatross

    Ah, good old Anoka and your death-grip on the 1950’s. Can we put the whole area in plastic and display it in a museum? Because that’s where so many of the attitudes exhibited in these comments belong.

    I graduated from St. Francis (whose gopher-claws are clenched around the 1930’s) but this whole Neanderthal approach to child-rearing is common to both places. My school experience included being beaten unconscious in a classroom, beaned with a whiskey bottle at a school dance, and terrorized on a continual basis – and I’m straight! I just made the mistake of getting good grades. Then as now, the attitude of the small-town lowbrows who ran things was “boys will be boys.”

    Honestly, I think there’s a shortage of oxygen north of the Twin Cities.

    Here’s my advice to any homosexual going to school in Anoka county – hang in there and GET OUT AS SOON AS YOU CAN. Get your diploma, hell, get your GED, and get down to the Twin Cities where you’ll be appreciated for who you are. Anoka isn’t good enough for you and doesn’t deserve you.

    • Kori Hamer

      I attended Henry SIbley High School in West St. Paul Mendota Heights. I was thrown out of the school briefly because the Assistant Principal thought I was gay. I was later thrown out again for defending myself from a football player 100 lbs heavier than myself who shared his openly discussed dislike of what he thought was my lifestyle. I am actually straight, and have children, and ex-wives to prove it, but that does not excuse the bullying both by students and staff on that account. Additional training, and counseling for anyone in that situation should be a reality, and gender or based discriminattion should not be tolerated in any public setting.

    • Sabrina

      ALBATROSS…Well, you certainly are out of touch if you think bullying of GLBT people only occurs outside of the “Twin Cities.” Frowning down upon others’ education status makes you no better a person than those bullying the GLBT students. Get your head of of the sand and wake up to the reality that all forms of harassment occur in every nook and cranny of the world. Putting down one community does not elevate your own. It only makes you sound like an ASS!

  • Martha H

    I’m so proud of the students, teachers and parents of Anoka Hennepin for standing up for the rights of *all* of their students. I hope that teachers receive appropriate training and are permitted to teach about LGBT people, history and civil rights in their classrooms. Stopping bullying is good, promoting tolerance is good, but engendering true respect for all people is best.

    • Dale

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Very well said Martha. All of our youth should be accepted and respected for who they are.

  • Mike

    Timothy-Yourr imagination has got the best of you today.
    PROVE one idiotic thing you said? Jost one….

    • DS

      Please read Romans Chapter 1, particularly verse 27 in the Bible.

      • Dale

        It’s not good enough to just “read” Romans Chapter 1. You need to understand in full context what is written, no matter what translation of the Bible you are reading.

        Furthermore all students should be treated equally. The Bible should not be used as a weapon in our public schools, no matter if it is directed towards on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

  • DS

    My response was to Mikes response to a posting put out by Timothy. That posting was removed from this board, so you wouldn’t understand what my point was.

    • Dale

      DS…No matter what your “point” was, (since you failed to explain what exactly your point was) I stand by what I said in my post.

  • Chris Nelson

    Sounds like Victim du Jour is just bent outta shape because he’s not gettin’ the attention he feels he deserves, which isn’t anybody else’s issue or problem.

  • john

    all of you are blowing this out of proportion. bullying has and always will happen. and if your gay, kids will pick on that to.. so man up quit being a bunch of whiners….. stop smoking pole and they would have nothing on that front to pick on you about….you want litature and protection acts… there is already some out there, called the bible… follow that, gurantee you wouldnt have problems.

  • Sarah

    THE A-H district is a disgrace to the state of Minnesota. Start educating the teachers to stop harassment of all students and overhaul the curriculum. With the suicide rate they are not doing their job and either is the parents and churches in the community. Where are the resources and people for these young people to reach out too? Obviously they are failing. It is NOT just the school it is the people that choose to live in this community that stick their heads in the sand as their children suffer. So much for acceptance, love and peace that’s not taught in the churches of A-H. At least these parents are angry and willing to speak up to create a system that is failing the public.

  • Sorren

    Anoka County hillbillies

  • Darren

    School is for teaching of the basics needed for life, not for your social life, not for your sexual or personal life, but your life as a career, a job, the direction of whatever you decide to do with your life.

    I was bullied in school as were most at some point. I dealt with it. I became a stronger and better person and alot of those students who picked on me did committ suicide after high school.

    If you are being bullied at school you have a few choices to make: Fight back,report it to the administration, or quit school. I believe in fighting back myself.

    • repp

      Very well said, Darren. No group or lawsuit will ever stop bullying, standing up for yourself is the only way to fight back.

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