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Mar 25 2012

Anoka-Hennepin Parents Want to Sue for Discrimination

Last time on As the Bullies Turn, our homophobic “heroes” had suffered a major defeat when the Anoka-Hennepin school district settled with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. The settlement produced an agreement that the district would ban not just anti-gay bullying but also bullying based on any form of gender expression.

However, the intrepid bigots didn’t rest there. They presented a list of demands to the district, suggesting that if the district failed to meet them, they would file suit based on the idea that the anti-bullying measures represented a “hostile environment” to religious students and violated their First Amendment rights to…bully?

Join us now as we tune in to watch how our champions of injustice fare in their battle against the forces of justice. What will be the answer from the school district?

To requests for resources for students of faith, Heidemann responded that district actions “may not have the primary effect of either enhancing or inhibiting religion, and may not create an extensive entanglement between Church and State.”

To demands for ex-gay therapies and trainings, and training on “overcoming sexual disorders,” Heidemann echoed an earlier statement by Superintendent Dennis Carlson, saying, “As a public school district, we accept all students, and we do not consider them to have a disorder if they identify as gay or support their gay friends.”

To demands for curriculum linking homosexuality to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, he said health classes do not address homosexuality or specific sex acts.

To demands that Carlson embark on a listening tour with District Prevention Coordinator Barry Scanlan to visit with students of faith, moral conviction, ex-homosexuals and ex-transgenders, much as they did with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, Heidemann said, “The superintendent … is open to any invitations from classes or student groups that want to meet with him.”

Ooh. That’s gotta sting. Well, tune in next time to find out whether our antagonists will make good on their threat of costing their children’s school district money in their effort to make it a “better place to learn”.

40 comments

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  1. 1
    Dan-o

    I remember back at college quite a few ethnic groups were forming their own student union groups (African America, Asian, Jewish, Spanish) but when a Caucasian student asked to start a white student union (he disliked the word Caucasian) he was labeled a bigot by the university’s paper. At the tIme I could careless. The news paper said the student was already for Caucasians but I onow that comment fell on def ears. I always thought it was unfair to not allow this union when others have their own union. My long winded point is that if you want equality than we all should have the same rights…even Christians. Cheers!

  2. 2
    smrnda

    I would oppose banning a ‘white students union’ though given the cultural context, it’s clearly not a fair equivalence to compare that to a minority students’ union or organization. When a marginalized group forms an organization, it’s normally to advocate for themselves within a system that tends to be biased. When I hear about a ‘white’ organization, it’s clearly more designed to protect white privilege, or deny that it exists.

    Nothing in this denies Christians the right to form organizations as far as I can tell, it just denies them the ability to shove their opinions on homosexuality down the throats of GLBT students at school and it demands that the school provide resources and support for GLBT students and that they be reasonably free of bullying behaviors.

    People have a right to their opinions, but schools have an obligation to provide a safe space for all students, which sometimes means that they have to make judgment calls day to day about what they can put up with being said or done and to whom. I don’t think it’s a huge imposition to request that students don’t come to school with the mission of expressing disapproval of homosexuality at all costs. This isn’t to say opinions should be silenced, but when it comes to GLBT students this is clearly being shoved in their faces excessively. Students can’t just turn the school into a soapbox for their religious agendas. I know some people will argue that this is making the school adopt a pro-GLBT agenda, but people who say that probably don’t believe in any sort of neutrality. The school is just trying to do its job in making sure a powerful and dominant majority cannot make a minority feel unwelcome in school.

    I used to think that a Christian was defined by someone who believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ, though in recent years I think a better definition would be someone with a compulsion to express disapproval of homosexuality as often as possible.

    I also wish that those who disapprove of homosexuality would drop the pretense that they can build a non-religious argument against it. Homosexuality occurs in animals, so it’s clearly not unnatural. I just find the constant attempt to make some argument against it that isn’t “some Holy Book said so” to be dishonest.

  3. 3
    'Tis Himself

    Many American Christians say the US is a “Christian nation” and everyone here should follow the dictates of Christianity. Simultaneously, they complain that Christians are a downtrodden, persecuted group forbidden to practice various parts of their dogma. I wish they’d pick one stance and stick with it instead of flip-flopping between the two, depending on which one suits their immediate needs.

  4. 4
    Steve

    The so-called “Parents Action League” is a typical Christian organization. Two dozen people at most pretending to be far larger and claiming to represent thousands of people. I don’t see why anyone takes them seriously

  5. 5
    lordshipmayhem

    They take them seriously because they’ve made their names seem innocuous, innocent of all sectarian or ethnic leaning, as if they really were out for the best interests of every child, not just those suffering from fundie Xian parents.

  6. 6
    dano

    Is there a reason why if we have a tolerence day for GLBT we can not have equal time to char with or for straight kids?

  7. 7
    julian

    When I hear about a ‘white’ organization, it’s clearly more designed to protect white privilege, or deny that it exists.

    Another problem is how poorly defined ‘white’ is. What exactly is it that’s unifying this group? A shared history, similar social stigmas attached to them, culture, what? An Irish Student Council or a Czech Student League is a different story. Heck even a Norse or Slavic group would be different.

    But white? Er-do you mean Anglo-European? You kinda lost me, mate.

  8. 8
    julian

    @dano

    heterosexuality is already over represented in our culture. Everyone is expected to be straight, almost every character we deal with (from children shows to adult films) revolve around a straight couple. Non heterosexual are treated as special and mature content that children (including children who aren’t heterosexual) have to be shielded from because they are not mature enough to deal with it.

  9. 9
    Steve

    >”Is there a reason why if we have a tolerence day for GLBT we can not have equal time to char with or for straight kids?”

    Because straight people aren’t discriminated against for being straight. Duh.

    Also, something like “pro-straight” is really code for “anti-gay”. Such proposals are really a pretense to introduce more homophobia and anti-gay propaganda into schools. In the same way that “pro-life” really means “anti-abortion”.

  10. 10
    Michael Brew

    @Dan-O

    It’s my understanding that Christians can still form their own groups and are still protected from bullying based on their religion. Thus, they already have the same legal rights and protections that LGBT students have. Are you trying to argue that they don’t?

  11. 11
    dano

    He used that word word white I believe because it would raise the most eyebrows. Again back than I could care less so did not pay much attention as I was in college to get an education and not protest everything I disliked about the world. I can not speak for him but think a better word would have been caucasian ro similar. Again I am betting the word white was exactly what he wanted to raise eyebrows.

  12. 12
    dano

    michaelbrew no offense but if we have a day just for GLBT tolerance can we also have a day called Christain tolerance & if so do you know the date? I will be a while until I can reply back perhaps later this afternoon or evening.

  13. 13
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Ahh, yes, those poor Christians. maybe, if they agitate for their rights and for tolerance enough, maybe one day one could be elected president. And maybe one day, they could be the majority of the fucking culture, both numerically and in terms of power.

    Are you actually this stupid, dano? They’re tolerated every single day, including when they drive queer and trans kids to suicide. They need less fucking tolerance if anything.

  14. 14
    Chiroptera

    dano, #12: …can we also have a day called Christain tolerance….

    Sure we can. When Christians become a persecuted and despised minority, they might very well deserve their own day.

    But as long as they are the dominant group and they are the main source of anti-gay bullying, then what would be the point? To promote the idea the “fairness” means to accept a false equivalence?

  15. 15
    Chiroptera

    I’ve changed my mind. I think that a “Christian Tolerance Day” would be a fine idea. As in posters that read, “Christians, quit being a bunch of asses and be more tolerant of the other people with whom you share the world.”

  16. 16
    otrame

    Dano,

    I know you already know this, but in case there is a 10 year old out there who has had limited social interactions:

    Tolerence for one does not mean lack of tolerance for another. I think most people in the US are pretty tolerant of Christians, as long as they are not using their religion as an excuse to be intolerant of other people. I know I have no intolerance of Christians. I have intolerance of assholes. Many assholes are Christian, it is true, but their religion is not why I am intolerant of them. (Notice that I do not assume that being an asshole is a defining characteristic of Christians. That’s because I know a lot of really great people who are Christians in real life. On the Internet, not so much.)

    Some GLBT kids are Christians, some are not. When Christian kids get bullied for being Christian (which may happen occasionally) I will stand with you to object to this. When GLBT kids get bullied for being GLBT will you stand with me to object?

  17. 17
    Michael Brew

    @Dan-O

    That’s wrong for the same reason having a White History Month is wrong. Black History Month and Women’s History Month exists because EVERY OTHER FRACKING MONTH IS WHITE HISTORY MONTH. In the same fashion, Christians already have a Christian Tolerance Day in this country, because as tye majority and assumed default EVERY DAY is their day of tolerance. When you’re 90% of the population and are in positions of relative power, you just don’t need one special day to convince the other 10% that you’re human beings.

  18. 18
    Didaktylos

    dano – don’t ever get into a dispute with billy-goats about bridge-crossing rights

  19. 19
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    dano

    if we have a day just for GLBT tolerance can we also have a day called Christain tolerance & if so do you know the date?

    I’ll go an order of magnitude better: Every day is Christian privilege day, never mind tolerance. What exactly is the complaint, or what do you imagine that you are exposing here?

  20. 20
    smrnda

    Julian, sorry for the vague and confusing use of ‘white’

    I was responding to an earlier comment from dano when I mentioned a white organization. I’d say that a white is a distinctly US cultural identity or label and I don’t even feel totally qualified to make pronouncements on what it might mean, aside form what it entails in terms of privilege. Originally there was a high degree of WASP dominance but as time has gone by, Euro-Americans who weren’t so accepted at first became more or less just accepted as ‘white.’

    I totally agree that a Norse, Irish, Slavic or any other type of organization would be totally different than a ‘white’ organization.

    To argue that we need to promote Christian tolerance or have a ‘straight day’ kind of pretends that the experiences of say, straight people and gay people are symmetric. We have Black history month since our history has usually ignored Black people, their accomplishments, experiences and perspectives. Straight people, last I checked, don’t face much in the way of discrimination so I don’t see the need for a special day.

    I mean, in some other nations there might be a point to a day highlighting tolerance of Christians, but I can’t imagine that Iran needs a special “day for tolerance of Islam.”

  21. 21
    dano

    I have no doubt that we really don’t need a Christian Tolerence Day but so far none have proved why my childern must be subjected to a GLBT Tolerance Day. Will there be a Tolerence Day now for Atheists or Wickens or Jews? Remember the Jews were killed by the millions during Hitler’s reign of power so we definitely need a Tolerence day for them. How about for short people or those under 6′ tall, and over weight people. Wow we should almost pick a group of people every week. Come on let’s get real. Should GLBT be picked on the answer is no just like the the kid who is short, over weight and wears glasses should not be bullied either. Where do we draw the line?

  22. 22
    Ingdigo Jump

    I have no doubt that we really don’t need a Christian Tolerence Day but so far none have proved why my childern must be subjected to a GLBT Tolerance Day.

    Exactly because you see it as an imposition.

    Learn to be a fucking decent person.

  23. 23
    Aliasalpha

    Isn’t a tolerance day essentially saying “Hey just for today, don’t be a dick” or even simpler “be nice”. Is this so horrible a thing to subject your kids to dano? Will they be traumatised by it?

  24. 24
    smrnda

    First, I’m a she not a he, and I didn’t use “white” to raise eyebrows, it’s just the first word that comes to my mind when I think demographics; how often does anybody use ‘caucasian’ in everyday speech? My instinct is to go with the simplest, most common, most accessible word at all times. I hear people talk about white people every day, I hardly ever hear the word ‘caucasian.”

    I wouldn’t mind some more days of tolerance for more groups of people, though I think the focus on GLBT tolerance is that it’s a group which has been quite pissed and shat on lately. GLBT people are assaulted quite frequently and GLBT kids are at an increased risk of suicide; what largely prompted the change in the Anoka-Hennepin district’s policy was a large number of GLBT kids committing suicide. That doesn’t seem to imply a particularly welcoming environment.

    I heard the same kind of whining from males during college who objected to being “forced to endure” (their words) rape awareness training. Then again, I knew lots of other guys who felt it was a good thing since, as they put it, men don’t think about how this risk is real to women.

    Likewise, if you aren’t a GLBT person, it’s worth learning a bit about what that experience is like. If you aren’t a minority it’s a good idea to get some better awareness about what life is like from their point of view – you can try to be as un-prejudiced as possible, but without hearing someone else’s perspective you don’t really know what it’s like.

  25. 25
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Julian @8:

    Everyone is expected to be straight, almost every character we deal with (from children shows to adult films) revolve around a straight couple.

    Boy that annoys the crap out of me. As a bartender, I’m used to seeing guys drool over girls and think “drinks=sex”, but why do some people feel the need to include me in the ogling? “Yeah guys I saw her. Now here’s a towel so you can clean up the drool!” As if I’m (like *every* other male on the planet) obviously heterosexual. Sometimes I want to correct them (never have; I’m thinking the workplace isn’t the place for that).

  26. 26
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    To demands for curriculum linking homosexuality to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases

    When do they start promoting Lesbianism, since they have the lowest overall rates of STDs?

    Is there a reason why if we have a tolerence day for GLBT we can not have equal time to char with or for straight kids?

    You can. There’s only a condition: You have to limit it to that ONE day. No more 364 days of straight pride parade.

    but so far none have proved why my childern must be subjected to a GLBT Tolerance Day.

    Well, they actually might be gay. And if they are I would not be surprised if they hid that very important thing about their livs carefully from you.
    I also imagine that they’d be gratefull if there was an event that told them: you’re OK the way you are, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
    And it will never hurt the straight kids to learn that there’s nothing wrong about their gay peers either.
    And it’s not like we need to teach gay kids that straight kids are OK. It’s a pretty obvious fact of life. Next you’ll want to have a “it’s OK for the sky to be blue” day.

    Remember the Jews were killed by the millions during Hitler’s reign of power so we definitely need a Tolerence day for them.

    27th January, International Holocaust Memorial Day

    I’ve changed my mind. I think that a “Christian Tolerance Day” would be a fine idea. As in posters that read, “Christians, quit being a bunch of asses and be more tolerant of the other people with whom you share the world.”

    +1

  27. 27
    dano

    Giliell, thank you for reminding about this international day. My point is that we do not have an official date for the U.S. but I do understand the U.S. is part of the UN.

    Smrnda, if you are the person I was talking about could you tell me the approximate date & college so I can be sure we are talking about the same event?

    Cheers!

  28. 28
    Rory

    What irritates the shit out of me in this debate is the way that ridiculous and harmful beliefs are given respect simply because they’re religious in origin. If they were simply bigots, we’d tell them to go stuff themselves when they whine about not being able to be as bigoted as they want to be in public, but because they couch their bigotry in religious terms we’re all supposed to be okay with it. It almost makes you wish they actually understood what it meant to be a persecuted minority, rather than simply crying martyr every time they’re forced to act halfway decently.

  29. 29
    Anri

    dano:

    I have no doubt that we really don’t need a Christian Tolerence Day but so far none have proved why my childern must be subjected to a GLBT Tolerance Day.

    (bolded for emphasis)

    Could you expand on this a bit for us, dano?
    What exactly do you mean by ‘subjected to’?
    I mean, presumably, if you disagree with the message, you could just tell your kinds something like, “Well, when the teachers say that LGBT people are ok and are people just like you and me, just ignore them. Remember what we teach you at home about good people and bad people and how to tell the difference.”

    Unless, of course, you actually agree with the message that LGBT people are ok and are people just like you and me.
    In which case, I guess I’m not really seeing your issue.

  30. 30
    dano

    I have no issue with what you do in your own home. I simply do not wish my children to see this as the new norm regardless of what the few outspoken people may say.

  31. 31
    Michael Brew

    @Dano

    People used to say that about interracial couples as well.

    Is it just all about the sex with you? ‘Cause when I see stuff like this it seems to come from some skewed idea that kids are going to be forced to watch hardcore porn rather than a simple “some people fall in love with people of the same gender and that’s okay.”

  32. 32
    Anri

    I have no issue with what you do in your own home. I simply do not wish my children to see this as the new norm regardless of what the few outspoken people may say.

    So, as long as LGBT people stay in the closet where they belong, they’re ok with you?
    Am I reading you right?

  33. 33
    Chiroptera

    dano, 30: I have no issue with what you do in your own home. I simply do not wish my children to see this as the new norm regardless of what the few outspoken people may say.

    You don’t want your children to be exposed to the idea that you should treat people decently even when they’re gay?

    Interesting.

  34. 34
    Brian Westley

    Ex-transgenders?

  35. 35
    Rieux

    Dano @ 30:

    I simply do not wish my children to see this as the new norm….

    Then you have every right to tell your children that. You do not, however, have the right to enshrine your prejudice in law or in the curricula of public schools. The First Amendment provides you ample right to be a homophobic bigot, but public bodies have no duty to defer to your bigotry; to the contrary, in many situations they have an active obligation to maintain equal protection of the law notwithstanding your opposition to it.

    …regardless of what the few outspoken people may say.

    “The few outspoken people”? You think that we Americans who advocate justice and equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, and other sexual minorities are “few”?!

    That’s a nice little fairy tale you’re telling yourself. I hope it keeps you warm at night, because the next decade or two of American history are going to be very uncomfortable for you. Polls now show that the majority of the American public supports marriage equality for gays and lesbians—and the trend on that issue (check out the graph on that page), as on every other measure of societal support for GLBT equality, is very badly against you. On every front, the notion that gay people, gay relationships, and gay love are just as wonderful and valuable as their heterosexual analogs is inexorably gaining public support. Meanwhile, homophobic prejudice like yours is increasingly being recognized for the destructive inhumanity that it is.

    Again, you have every right to teach your children that the full humanity of GLBT people is not a legitimate “norm.” Chances are very good, however, that they will grow up to recognize that their parent is an embarrassing homophobe whose notions of propriety have been deformed by a prejudice that they, along with a few hundred million other Americans, have gladly seen past and cast off. Just ask the children and grandchildren of your fellow-travelers among the supporters of Jim Crow and segregation: that their ancestors fought bitterly to keep ethnic minorities in their place as second-class citizens is a guilty burden on the conscience of untold numbers of people in the modern United States.

    Try as you might to hold back the floodwaters of human rights for GLBT people, you’re fighting a losing battle. Societal acceptance of their full humanity, and rejection of your prejudice against it, are all but a fait accompli; the only question is how many more years the bulwarks of homophobic hate can hold out. Possibly it’ll be twenty-five or thirty years before homophobia is as widely detested and rejected as segregation is, but that day is coming. You can bemoan it, but I’d suggest you watch some of the footage of screaming segregationists (protesting, say, the 1957 entry of the first African-American students into Little Rock Central High School) and ask yourself if you want your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to be as embarrassed for you as we all now are for those segregationists.

  36. 36
    Rieux

    Brian @34:

    Ex-transgenders?

    Yes, a certain portion of the anti-gay set believes that transgenderism, like homo- and bisexuality, is a mental disorder that can be treated—sometimes medically/psychologically and often religiously. The notion is that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity is something that someone is, but rather that they’re characteristics that can (and in many cases should) be changed so that the subject behaves only in a “natural” or God-dictated manner with regard to sex and gender.

    The whole thing is a solidly evil idea that causes severe amounts of suffering, especially in conservatively religious communities, but it isn’t quite internally logically contradictory or anything. It’s just willfully blind, belligerently ignorant, and brutally inhumane.

  37. 37
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I simply do not wish my children to see this as the new norm regardless of what the few outspoken people may say.

    The norm?
    Wait, are they recruiting kids to be gay again?
    For the last week or so I’ve been desperately trying to become a decent bisexual at last, and so far, in spite of very good and patient teachers it didn’t work :(
    (In case it flew over the head of somebody, that was sacrcasm)

    Indeed, what do you mean by “becomes the norm”?
    Gay people? They will most likely never become the majority. It’s not as if people’s sexual orientation changes just because they are accepted.
    Treating gay people as, well, people with equal rights and dignity? If that’s the norm you’re against, you’re nothing more than a horrible bigot and your children need to be exposed to much more sources of morality outside the home.

  38. 38
    smrnda

    I’m not sure what you meant by date and college – the college I attended (a state university) had a mandatory 45 minute rape awareness workshop that you did your first year; both men and women were required to attend. I’ve heard of other schools doing the same thing.

    I graduated school in 2006. Beyond that I *prefer* not to give out anything more personal or specific.

    I don’t think the issue is making homosexuality into the ‘new norm’ but just that homosexuals are entitled to some basic rights and dignity and a certain level of polite tolerance from the rest of society, even from people who may personally disagree with what they do.

    Most people I know accept that they have values that are not likely to be reinforced in public schools. Some people go so far as to enroll their kids in private schools or else to home-school them, but for the most part parents just do their best to *persuade* their kids on their own.

  39. 39
    dano

    smrnda, thank you. You are not the person I was referring to in my post. This would have been almost 15 years earlier at the U of MN Mpls. Thanks anyway.

  40. 40
    Rieux

    Crap: Dan-O is (or was—I hold out hope) a Minnesotan. So much for my state pride.

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