COON RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) — The teachers union in Minnesota’s largest school district on Monday endorsed a proposed replacement for a policy that requires teachers to stay neutral when issues of sexual orientation come up in class.

Local President Julie Blaha said the representative assembly of Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota showed overwhelming support for the proposed “Respectful Learning Environment” policy in a voice vote. The proposal was unveiled at a school board meeting Jan. 23.

“Ultimately we believe this (proposed) policy reflects what works for students and we definitely can work with that,” said Blaha, whose union has about 2,700 members in the northern suburban Twin Cities district of about 38,500 students. She said the union is recommending only four minor wording changes for clarity.

Critics say the district’s existing neutrality policy on human sexuality hampers teachers from effectively preventing bullying of students who are gay or perceived as gay, and the district is the target of two lawsuits challenging it. Supporters of the policy include parents who believe homosexual conduct is immoral and don’t want teachers telling their children that gay relationships are acceptable.

The draft proposal says it’s not the district’s role to take positions on contentious political, religious, social, or economic issues, and teachers and staff should not try to persuade students to adopt or reject any particular viewpoint on such issues. It says discussions of these issues should be presented in an impartial, balanced and objective manner, allowing a respectful exchange of views. And during these discussions, it says, teachers and staffers should affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

The school board is expected to vote on the proposed policy next Monday.

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Comments (6)
  1. Mel says:

    How is this different from the previous policy?

    1. Kilgore says:

      It includes the statement “teachers and staffers should affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.” The Anoka-Hennepin Parent Action League disagrees with this statement and want a return to the previous policy.

  2. Elizabeth Troester says:

    Something must be really wrong with that school district. This shouldn’t even be an issue. Gay kids need support and advice, and teachers and educators should be able to listen to them and provide appropriate advice. To me, this whole issue is that a very vocal and narrow minded minority is influencing the district, and ignoring the real problem here, which is an organized attempt to make gay students feel like there’s something “wrong” with them. To be honest, I would not want my child to be a student in that district, because of this controversy.

    1. Steven says:

      @E.T. So instead of the teacher maintaining a neutral position and focusing on teaching their subject of their expertise and maintaining an environment of learning in their respective classroom; leaving such personal issues as religion, politics or gender attraction to the student’s family they must now play social worker and advocate to a few students that are having difficulty with respective issues. Advocacy and being a therapist is not the teacher’s job nor are they trained to be one at the level that a student struggling with their gender attraction preference needs. The most the teacher should be expected to do is to refer the student to the school social worker and have them refer the student to the appropriate resource for them. Let the teachers teach and maintain a learning environment in their immediate classroom and let the other professionals do their job!

  3. Common Cents says:

    It should remain neutral. The school district has no business discussing (at any level) sexual orientation with my children. Highly inappropiate!

  4. See BS says:

    Public Schools are suppose to be focused on Math and Science.

    Public Education has become a state sponsored religious institution for liberal “Multi-cultural” bible banging.