Minn. District To Redo Controversial Topics Policy

COON RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s largest school district plans to rework a proposed policy on controversial topics that came under criticism.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District administration plans to present a “respectful learning environment curriculum policy” at Monday night’s board meeting. The board will review the proposed policy but will not vote on it then.

The district had proposed a new policy to require teachers to refrain from stating their views on controversial topics in the classroom. The board proposed the change to replace a current policy that requires teachers to remain neutral when the topic of human sexuality comes up during class. Some people believe the current policy, which is being challenged by two lawsuits, fosters bullying of gay students.

The neutrality policy came under fire after six students in the district committed suicide in less than two years. The district in the northern Twin Cities suburbs has about 38,500 students and 2,800 teachers.

School administrators plan to work on the revised policy through the weekend.

“We hope the result will be language that is more clear on the school board’s intent and which will be embraced more positively by our community,” Superintendent Dennis Carlson said in a statement.

The local teachers union had urged the board to drop the controversial topics proposal, saying educators should be trusted to mediate student discussions about sexual orientation and other issues. Some parents and clergy members argued for maintaining the existing neutrality policy, saying it was the best way to respect the views of conservative and religious students and families who believe homosexuality is immoral.

Two lawsuits filed by students, former students and parents allege that the neutrality policy effectively silences teachers and prevents them from protecting students who are gay or perceived as gay.

Lawsuit settlement talks continued Wednesday but there was no resolution, district spokesman Brett Johnson said.

  • G Dog


    Help kids or bow to the right wing whack jobs.

    This school board is a joke.

  • Citizen

    Your comment is right on, G Dog. I might add that the school board is scared and caving to a few right-wing, self-righteous religious fanatics and trying to enact a policy that is unenforceable. The lawsuits should move forward.

  • Just saying

    We should have an all gay classroom where children can foster a better learning environment. Gay people never bully or are sarcastic around other gays.

  • Citizen

    Here is what the DPE has to say today about religious fanaticism and its results:

    “The national disaster of Iran is the directly the result of allowing religion, in this case dictatorial Islamic fundamentalists to govern what would otherwise be a secular country. By imposing their own theocratic dictatorship the Iranian leadership is not only slowly destroying Iranian society and their economy, it is menacing the world economy and stability, with potentially dire results.

    …although the government in Tehran knows it cannot risk an all-out confrontation with America, nor can it be easily confident of stopping just short of such a cataclysm if it continues to raise the stakes. Despite Iran’s recent bluster, caution will probably prevail. But the chances of miscalculation are already quite high—and getting higher.

    One lesson for the United States in all of this. Iran is an example of what happens when religious fanatics take over government and impose a rule of religion rather than a rule of law. Of course the extremist political/religious leaders in the U. S. and Israel and other countries would mightily protest the idea that they were the same as the Iranian clergy, but they are. Yes it is a different religion, but the goal is the same, to use government for enforcing sectarian rule on a secular population.”

  • Citizen

    Lest a flurry of posters think the DPE comment is off-base, think about the fact that all religions need to scapegoat a class of people in order to define their “religious values.” In Salem, MA, it was women who were supposedly witches, in Spain it was the Inquisition’s version of unpolitically correct nonbelievers. The Irish immigrants to America in the late 1800’s were condemned for their Catholicism. It goes without saying how Jewish people have been persecuted. Now, in today’s America, it is the turn of the “gay” population to be vilified by the ultra conservatives in order to obtain power and control over a secular population and to enact their agenda of “fixing” all of the rest of us sinners and nonbelievers in their version of “truth and the American way.”

    • chill

      It is amazing how far we have come in recognizing the complexity of human sexuality and tolerating those differences. Popular culture reflects this change as we see openly gay people in movies and TV shows. Intolerance remains of course, but the depth of your paranoia is completely unjustified. NOW it is the turn of the gay population to be vilified? Hardly. When the gay pride movement started the idea that gay marriage would be considered by state legislatures was a fantasy. Much progress has been made, and your paranoid vilification of religion is unnecessary and counterproductive. Some churches and many Christians are embracing tolerance and your ranting makes you sound as intolerant as those you obviously hate.

      • Citizen

        @Chill. Freedom of religion in the U.S. means also FREEDOM FROM religion which is what my “rant” is about. Your post is simply trying to dilute the hate being trumped up by the religious right. Good luck with that since the GOP has made the agenda to deny gay rights part of its platform.

        • chill

          I am in complete agreement with you in terms of your point about religious freedom. My point is that your posts vilifying religion ignore the progress made by our society in accepting gays, including churches and their members. You are right, I am trying to dilute your perception of the hatred you perceive coming from the so called “religious right.” It is not as widespread or cohesive as the media portrays it to be. Keep in mind that the churches see themselves as under siege as well. The GOP has long pandered to religious and social conservatives despite their supposed belief in keeping government out of our lives. The day is coming when they will realize that this hypocrisy is working against them. Considering the history of repression and persecution suffered by gays, I believe I should also apologize for calling you paranoid and describing your post as a rant. I just feel that great progress has been made, and that it is counterproductive to stoop to their level.

          • Citizen

            @chill. I agree with the problems the churches face, but then the solution is for the churches to stand united against the ultra right-wing religious zealots commandeering control of the national political discussions and the GOP. You see, I firmly believe that if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Remember the old adage that SILENCE IS CONSENT? So, this school district policy of neutrality is consent to bullying, consent to gay bullying in particular. The silence of mainstream churches and religion about the extremists in their midst is nothing but CONSENT to the dialog of hatred. As for the media, it just looks for titillation value and ratings so it can charge more for advertising.

            • chill

              Good point. As a teacher I can see how this neutrality policy could be used as an excuse for inaction in the face of intolerance. I hope it is changed for the better so the teachers of that district can take positive action. If not, I hope teachers there and everywhere adhere to their mission on there own. I have a cousin who teaches in that district and I know this situation must be horrible for her.

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