Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Anoka-Hennepin School District has taken a lot of criticism for its policy dealing with the sexual orientation of students.
The district faces two federal civil rights lawsuits filed by students who claim they’ve been harassed because they are gay. Still, there are those who agree with the district’s policy.
Ten simple sentences outline the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s stance on dealing with sexual orientation issues in the classroom. But, for the past two years, one sentence has been the center of controversy.
“The one sentence about neutrality was drafted by the district, insisted upon by district. We told them two and a half years ago, this is going to get you sued and they did,” said Phil Duran, a legal adviser for OutFront Minnesota.
Over the past couple of years, many have spoken out against the district’s neutral stance.
“It contributes to an environment where LGBT students feel unsafe. They feel disregarded,” said Duran.
There are also those who support it. The Parents Action League is circulating a petition asking people to back the district’s sexual orientation curriculum policy.
The group believes the policy strengthens the rights of parents when it comes to the education of their children, especially on sensitive topics, such as sexual orientation.
The phrasing continues to cause division among some in the district and the only resolution may come from the courtroom.
The Parents Action League has not yet responded to questions sent via email. They would not talk on camera.
The Anoka-Hennepin district said it’s not affiliated with the Parents Action League or the Anoka-Hennepin Gay Equality Team, a gay rights advocacy team that’s been outspoken against the policy.
“It has a clear and comprehensive anti-bullying and anti-harassment policy that leaves no question about a safe environment in the school for all kids,” a district official said. “What folks do outside the district is their business.”