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Bullying gay and lesbian kids: How a school district became a suicide contagion area

Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton shown during the Snow Days celebration processional at Champlin Park High School.
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Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton at Snow Days, Champlin Park High School.

Last spring, Desiree Shelton got an e-mail from a girl in France who had read an article about her. The e-mail was in French, and it took Shelton a little while to find someone to translate it. The gist was that Shelton's sudden, unexpected moment of fame made the French girl happy, and she hoped the two could be Facebook friends.

What Shelton did to make headlines around the globe was to sue her school district for refusing to let her walk in a pep-rally processional with her girlfriend. As part of the annual Snow Days celebration, their classmates had elected them to the royal court. But the principal thought the sight of the two holding hands might upset people.


Shelton, however, wanted to do it precisely because she thought it might make people — gay and lesbian teens in particular — feel better. During the previous 18 months, at least seven Anoka-Hennepin School District students had committed suicide — enough to cause the state to declare it a suicide contagion area. A number of the victims were gay or lesbian or perceived as so, or didn't dress according to their gender, and were bullied for it at school or online. Their friends and parents said adults at their schools knew about the harassment but did nothing.

Not too long ago, a teenaged lesbian like Shelton would probably have been too isolated to do anything but crawl back into her closet. But that was before the internet, before Facebook and texting, and most definitely before an 18-year-old would go home to her working-class subdivision, tell her mom the story and get a categorical response like, "That's bullshit. You need to go get them."

Times have changed. Within 24 hours, Shelton had not one but three law firms — the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Faegre & Benson — pressing her case for free. The volunteer lawyers stayed up all night getting the paperwork in order and on Friday, January 28, filed a federal civil rights suit against the district.

The next day, Shelton and her girlfriend, Sarah Lindstrom, and their attorneys, met with district leaders and U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richards Nelson in Nelson's Minneapolis chambers. After a single hour of mediation, the young women won the right to participate in the royal processional.

The following Monday afternoon, they entered the field house at Champlin Park High School in black suits and cotton-candy pink ties, to thunderous applause. Several of their friends had stayed up all night painting dozens of signs. At the end of the processional and coronation, they were thronged by reporters. Shelton recalls feeling nervous, and a little bad for upstaging the Snow Days queen, who watched the media crush quietly with some friends.

Afterward, Shelton got hundreds of letters from all over the world, which helped her brush off the few anonymous internet haters. She was even recognized at the local Target where she worked by a mother and daughter who stopped to congratulate her.

Snow Days only lasted a week, however. And a few days after the royal court retired, things went back to normal. LGBT kids were bullied every day, and often got no support or protection from their teachers, who believed district policy required them to stay out of it. Administrators, meanwhile, maintained they had received no reports of harassment. There were two more suicides, and lots of kids hospitalized for trying.

When Shelton's and Lindstrom's walk turned out not to be the watershed moment many had hoped for, their lawyers filed suit on behalf of five more students who complain they are the victims of ongoing physical and verbal harassment. This time they are demanding permanent changes to district policy. The U.S. departments of Justice and Education are also pursuing parallel investigations into Anoka-Hennepin's civil rights record.

Shelton still has the signs her friends made for Snow Days in her room in her mom's peacock blue split-level in Champlin. Her life plan is a work in progress, but at 19 she's clear about one thing: School administrators may think hiding is the safest plan for gay and lesbian kids, but the only way young people like her survive such a hostile environment is by acquiring — and modeling — self-respect.

"I think they don't understand that keeping us in the closet and making us hide who we are — that's not protecting us," she says. "As soon as I grew into my own skin, I realized I can't keep living the way I was. I needed to stand up for myself."

'They're letting the bullies get away with it'
Damien McGee-Backes is straight, but his dads, Michael McGee and Jason Backes, are gay. Three years ago the family was living in New Hampshire when McGee's job was eliminated. His best options for a new one were Virginia or Minnesota. Virginia isn't terribly LGBT-friendly, but a little research revealed that the Twin Cities had a number of LGBT resources, including the group Rainbow Families. The McGee-Backes bought a house in an upscale Anoka-Hennepin neighborhood, joined a local church and, assured that the school district had a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment, sent Damien off to fifth grade at Champlin Elementary School.

The bullying started right away and quickly escalated from taunts like "Gaymian" and "gayboy" to violence. Now a ninth-grader, Damien has been shoved, hit, choked, stabbed in the neck with a pencil, and told to perform various acts on himself and his dads. He and his dads have complained repeatedly and at every level, but the solutions teachers and administrators have suggested have punished Damien, while only emboldening his tormentors. Over the last three years he has suffered chronic headaches and insomnia.

Nestled in the elbow of land where the meandering Rum River feeds into the wider, sleepier Mississippi, Anoka sits at a crossroads. Drive one way on Main Street and — and make no mistake, drive you must—you're downtown. If you look past the storefront payday lenders and bars advertising pull-tabs, you can glimpse the town Congress designated as Halloween Capital of the World and Garrison Keillor re-imagined as Lake Wobegon.

Rep. Michele Bachmann
REUTERS/Charlie Neibergall
Rep. Michele Bachmann

In the other direction, Main Street funnels an endless stream of F150s and Chevy Aveos into a concrete canyon of drive-thrus and big-box chains, spitting them out into a vast estuary of cul-de-sacs. The surrounding bedroom communities span the socioeconomic spectrum from mobile homes to McMansions. The school district is the largest in the state, with some 40,000 students.

Much of the area falls within the district of Rep. Michele Bachmann, who graduated from Anoka High School in 1974. She and her husband, who runs a clinic that purports to cure homosexuality, have strong ties to the groups that regularly pack school board meetings. Student suicides, those groups maintain, are not the result of anti-gay bullying, but of "homosexual indoctrination." If schools offer any information about sexual orientation, they would like it to be about Bachmann-style reparative therapy.

Over the last two decades the district has been the site of debates over teaching creationism, AIDS prevention, and white supremacy. But the roots of the current controversy can be traced to 2008, when the mother of a high school student in the district complained to the state Department of Human Rights that two teachers had harassed her son, who they perceived as gay.

After the state's investigation showed that the teachers had in fact subjected the student to "conduct severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive," Anoka-Hennepin offered a $25,000 settlement. The board also voted to replace a 1995 policy that homosexuality would not be acknowledged as a "normal, valid lifestyle" with a rule mandating "curricular neutrality." The new policy said that if sexual orientation came up in school, teachers were to remain neutral.

If that sounds simple, for the most part in classrooms and hallways it sowed confusion. Some teachers who had worn their staff IDs on rainbow lanyards to suggest they were safe for LGBT kids to approach took them off. Others didn't know whether they could answer questions like, "Is being gay something you're born with or decide?" Or, more perilous, "Are you gay?" Many teachers interpreted the rule as requiring them to turn away when an LGBT student was bullied.

For Damien, the upshot is pretty simple. "They're letting the bullies get away with it," he says. "It was difficult talking to the teachers because they would say the same thing over and over: 'We don't accept bullies.' But then they didn't do anything when I said I was being bullied."

An accomplished gymnast, Damien is small for his age. Right away in fifth grade a boy in his class identified in court documents only as D.M. decided the combination of two dads and a "girl's sport" made Damien gay. Despite the McGee-Backes family's repeated complaints about frequent taunting, school officials did not put an end to it.

The next year, both boys went off to Jackson Middle School where D.M. acquired a clique, which tormented Damien several times a day. Meanwhile, D.M. moved on to physical violence. Administrators put the burden for dealing with the situation on Damien, who they told to leave classes a few minutes early so he wouldn't be in the hall when other kids were passing. They also asked him to look up at security cameras in public areas when someone was taunting him and scratch his head as a signal.

In other districts, employees are taught effective interventions and are required to participate in creating welcoming school climates. But Jason Backes says Anoka-Hennepin's teachers have confessed to him that they have no idea how to address Damien's situation. They've gotten no training, no resources, and no help figuring out how to help without running afoul of the neutrality policy.

Once, early on in eighth grade, someone called Damien, who is African American, a nigger. He told the school counselor who immediately disciplined the offender. It never happened again, which Damien says is proof the adults are capable of effectively addressing bullies when they want to or feel they can.

Damien was an honor roll student, but by the middle of seventh grade his grades started slipping. At times his frustration would boil over and he would regress to a toddler-like state, throwing tantrums in which he punched himself or a wall. His parents found him a counselor, but the year ended badly.

Despite the fact that he begged, his dads couldn't homeschool him, nor could they move. The family bought its house before the recession, when real estate prices were highest. They can't afford to sell it now. Nor, says Backes, should they have to.

Death in a bathtub
Braxton Bolden is 14 and in the ninth grade at Anoka High School. Before that, he was a student at the former Fred Moore Middle School, now Anoka Middle School for the Arts. With the help of his mother, more than two years ago he went to his teachers and asked if the school could start a kind of club called a gay-straight alliance, or GSA. Braxton is straight, which makes him an ally in GSA parlance.

The school has gay teachers and straight teachers concerned about gay kids, but if Braxton hadn't stepped forward there might not be a GSA. For nearly 30 years, U.S. law has required schools to give equal treatment to all student-initiated, student-led groups that meet for activities outside school curriculum. Although the clubs meet in the schools after the end of the academic day, their members usually count on being able to get the word out by posting fliers in halls, meeting notices in news bulletins, and so forth.

The religious right groups hounding the district are right about one thing: Open talk about homosexuality in schools changes everything. And arguably, the GSA is where the toothpaste gets definitively squeezed out of the tube, never to go back in.

At her school's first GSA meeting, Desiree Shelton and her friends got a private visit with the librarian, who had pulled a selection of LGBT books to show them and took them on a tour of the different shelves where novels, health resources, and so forth could be found. Shelton didn't go in and read the books for another year or so, but knowing they were there in case she needed them helped her.

As a child, Shelton was shy. The GSA helped her adopt an assertive posture she credits with keeping her out of the bullies' crosshairs. "I think for the first time I was comfortable in my own skin," she says. "I was pretty outspoken. People knew if they said anything I would fight back."

The GSA at Shelton's former school, Champlin Park, is one of the district's oldest. Years ago its first faculty adviser got some flak for holding an ice cream social from grownups who viewed it, quite literally, as an attempt to use sweets to entice kids to be gay. But as long as the GSAs were contained to the high school level it was minimal. It's when kids started asking for them in middle school that serious resistance was raised.

Braxton Bolden had asked Anoka Middle School theater teacher Jefferson Fietek to be the group's faculty advisor. Fietek had wanted a GSA for awhile and agreed readily. Word got out and quickly a bunch of kids were champing to get started.

One of them was a 13-year-old seventh grader named Samantha Johnson who had moved to the area from North Dakota the year before. She did not identify as a lesbian, but got teased mercilessly because she was chubby and tomboyish. Sam and Braxton asked Fietek frequently about scheduling the club's first meeting.

Samantha Johnson
Samantha Johnson

Despite the existence of the Equal Access Act, the 1984 law that prohibits administrators from outlawing controversial clubs, Fietek had no answer for them. He had planned to hold the first meeting in September 2009, but was turned down by the principal, who wanted the word gay taken out of the title and a rule that sixth-graders could not join. When Fietek pushed back, he was asked to send home permission slips.

Fietek knew some kids join GSAs because home is not a safe place to air questions about their sexual orientations, so he did a little research. The only other clubs at the school that required parental permission were those that cost money or involved risky sports. Nonetheless, he rescheduled the GSA's first meeting for October, only to face another round of the same questions — and more pestering from Sam and Braxton.

"So then, OK, it was November," says Fietek. "So I said to the principal, 'We have followed all of the guidelines to get established, so we're going to meet. If you have to discipline me, then do it, but we're going to meet."

A week before the meeting, Samantha Johnson laid down in the bathtub and put a hunting rifle in her mouth. Her mother, who had been out renting a video, pulled into the driveway as Johnson was pulling the trigger.

"And so our first meeting, which should have been a celebration, was spent talking about how to process our feelings about the loss of one of our GSA friends," says Fietek. And about secrets—the ones you should keep, like who is and isn't a GSA member and whether that means they are gay, and the ones you shouldn't, like when a friend is cutting herself or has threatened suicide.

Now a freshman at a school in another district, Mike Thurston was at that meeting, missing Sam. "I think it would definitely have helped her to go," he says. "She would have had 30 new friends who all support her."

Braxton wasn't friends with Sam, but he was friends with friends of hers, and when he got the news of her death in his first-period class the next day, he was hurt and sad — and angry. "People said they were glad and called her names and all that," he recalls. He might not be gay, Braxton adds, but in a climate like that the only place he and lots of other kids feel truly safe and accepted is the GSA.

Buried three students
Sam Johnson is one of three students Fietek has buried. For him, the deaths simply cemented a conviction he's long held: Neutrality policy notwithstanding, it's his job to protect students. "When I became a teacher seven years ago, one of the things I took very much to heart is that my first job is to keep kids safe," he says. "We are mandated reporters."

The last school year was the worst for Fietek. In the fall of 2010, in the wake of the highly publicized suicide of a student named Justin Aaberg, Superintendent Carlson told staff, board members, and the news media that an outside investigation failed to turn up any evidence that any of the deaths involved bullying. Indeed, he insisted, no one could find a teacher or staffer who had received any complaints.

"The kids felt disbelieved, dismissed as being liars," says Fietek. As a result, many shut down, stopped talking to even trusted adults like him, and began turning to one another for advice. Right after college, Fietek volunteered with a suicide hotline, so he had some formal training what to say and not to say to people in crisis. His students, most of them just barely teens, were making it up as they went along, sometimes to tragic result.

In addition to seven of his students who had to be hospitalized for suicide attempts in the first five months of 2011, Fietek's phone rang nearly continually with reports of students who were hurting themselves or engaging in unsafe activities. He spent a lot of time talking to GSA members and any other kid who would listen about the kind of secrets adults need to hear.

"By every one of my phones and every computer in my house I had posted crisis hotline numbers," he says. "I was getting calls from kids and parents, Facebook messages and texts saying, 'I'm going to kill myself.'"

Every other day he got a new report of a kid on the brink. "It just exploded," he says. "One girl tried to kill herself because she was so overwhelmed with the number of friends who tried to kill themselves. I had to call her parents and say she has taken on the burden of her friends' burdens."

The political forces pounding the district, meanwhile, wanted the GSAs—and particularly Fietek's, which they singled out online—gone. Even before entering politics, Bachmann was the education adviser to an affiliate of one of the groups, the Minnesota Family Council. Its local affiliate, the Parents Action League, is the group that has asked Anoka-Hennepin to distribute reparative therapy materials in schools.

The head of the MFC, Tom Prichard, told local media that it was "homosexual indoctrination" and not bullying that sparked the suicides. MFC researcher Barb Anderson, who is also head of the Parents Action League, made numerous talk radio appearances and wrote letters to newspapers blaming parents and gay rights advocates for the deaths.

"Why aren't we outraged that the GSAs affirm sexual disorders?" she wrote to a neighborhood paper in June. "Open your eyes, people. Parents, do you really want your children attending a GSA where homosexual behavior is affirmed and celebrated and where children are trained to be advocates for this unhealthy behavior as well as activists for gay rights?"

After Johnson's suicide, many GSA members participated in the Day of Silence, an event organized by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network during which kids spend the day in silence to symbolize the effect of anti-gay bullying. In response, the Parents Action League reportedly organized an event called the Day of Truth, created by the "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International. Held the day before the Day of Silence, students are to mark it by talking to classmates about homosexuality from a Christian perspective.

In 2010, 15-year-old Justin Aaberg, who was openly gay, came home from Anoka High School and told his mother that another kid had said Justin would go to hell. His mother, Tammy Aaberg, has said that the Parents Action League worked with local churches to hand out Day of Truth t-shirts. In July of that same year, Aaberg hanged himself in his room.

At the start of the 2010-2011 school year, Tammy Aaberg made an impassioned speech to the school board, garnering the first mainstream media attention to the district's problems. It was in reply to that that Superintendent Carlson said that an investigation had turned up no reports of bullying. He said as much in a robo-call to staff, and district public relations staffers wrote letters repeating the assertion to reporters.

15-year-old Justin Aaberg hanged himself in his room in 2010 following incidents of bullying.
RIP Justin Aaberg Facebook page
15-year-old Justin Aaberg hanged himself in 2010 following incidents of bullying.

Desiree Shelton attended some of the board meetings and listened to the arguments. But she also attended school every day and knew how often—and how intensively--her classmates were being tormented. An androgynous-looking female friend of hers got shoved into lockers--and had big bruises to prove it. A boy who dressed in "flamboyant" clothes was made to run the gantlet, essentially, by kids who would flatten themselves against the walls as he went by in the halls, throwing out taunts like, "Don't touch me or I'll get a disease!" A bullied friend dropped out, depressed and suicidal. Shelton herself got flamed anonymously online.

More suicide attempts
Civil rights advocates here and around the country were watching, too, and several investigations were quietly underway. Two federal agencies were looking into whether the school district was violating U.S. education and civil rights laws. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, a public interest law firm that has played an instrumental role in civil rights struggles involving race, was talking to students, parents, and staff. It took Shelton about an hour to get the help she needed to file suit.

The resulting mediation took about an hour, too. Afterward Carlson and Principal George took Shelton and Lindstrom out to lunch and had a pleasant chat. Carlson told the young women how horrified he had been when a couple he knew ostracized their lesbian daughter. The men clearly care about young people, Shelton says. But they seem to have no idea that asking kids to hide who they are does not protect them. Rather, they are punishing the LGBT kids while enabling the bullies.

After Snow Days, the school year proceeded much like the one before it. Lots of kids attempted suicide and in May, one succeeded. Near the end of the year Sam Wolfe, the Southern Poverty Law Center attorney on the case, sent Carlson a three-page letter charging that the district's attempts to deal with the crisis were "superficial" and that kids remained at risk.

"It has become increasingly apparent in the course of the investigation that the District's so-called 'sexual orientation curriculum policy,' or 'gag policy,' contributes significantly to the hostile environment for LGBT students within the District," it states. "The gag policy serves no legitimate education-related purpose. Rather, as made abundantly clear in the District's own guidance about the policy the gag policy singles out a vulnerable and disfavored minority — LGBT students — and prevents teachers and other district employees from supporting, or even protecting, those students within the classroom."

If the district refused to change its policy, the organizations warned, they would have no choice but to sue: "The policy imposes a stigma on LGBT students as pariahs, not fit to be mentioned within the school community, a message that comes across loud and clear both to LGBT students and their peers, and which has grave repercussions for the psychological and emotional development of LGBT students."

Settlement talks in June resulted only in a statement from the district saying that it deems the neutrality policy appropriate, and that if civil rights groups really want to help they will agree to provide training to district staff — an offer OutFront Minnesota, a local gay rights organization, had made at the start of the wave of suicides but that was rebuffed.

Nor do civil libertarians have strong state or federal law to fall back on. So far, federal anti-bullying legislation sponsored by Sen. Al Franken has yet to gain traction.

And yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education issued a report criticizing Minnesota’s 37-word anti-bullying statute as weak and ill-defined. Gov. Mark Dayton last month appointed a task force, which includes Justin Aaberg’s mother, to consider the issue.

In July, the groups filed a new suit on behalf of Damien McGee-Backes and four other students. No trial date has been scheduled yet.

In August, the district administration required all staff to undergo anti-bullying training. In addition to requiring staff to monitor hallways and other common spaces, administrators told teachers that Anoka-Hennepin's anti-bullying rule always trumps its neutrality policy. It's a step in the right direction, some GSA advisers and students acknowledge, but it was accompanied by suggestions the district's uppermost concern was public perception. For instance, a committee appointed to address LGBT climate issues includes members of the district's public relations and legal offices, but no teachers or students.

Plus, some complain, there's a creeping perception that names of dissenters are being noted. After the staff anti-bullying training, teachers and others were asked to take a six-question quiz about it. One of the true-false questions: "One of the goals of the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy is to ensure all of our students feel safe and respected in our classrooms and/or while participating in school activities." Anyone who answered "false" failed to get 100 percent.

The second week of the current school year, students were surveyed about their schools' climates. Jefferson Fietek was heartbroken when he saw that kids had to write their names on the survey forms. His students asked him whether they should answer honestly; some feared they would be called into the office and asked about their answers. He urged them to tell the truth and to assume that their feelings were being taken seriously. When he looked at their answers later, he saw that several who had complained about bullying to him in person wrote that things were just fine.

Six months after graduating, Shelton is still trying to nail down what's next. She has a new girlfriend and is enrolling in the Minneapolis Technical and Community College to take general courses and hopefully study painting. She needs to get an apartment that's closer to her new school, but that takes money and the recession has made it hard for anyone without job experience to get started.

Shelton has tried to stay involved, joining an adult effort called the Gay Equity Team, but it's hard. She's disappointed that things reverted to the status quo. But she's glad she inspired kids in the district and from as far away as France, and glad that younger classmates saw her standing up for herself, even if it meant filing a federal lawsuit. Maybe having seen two young women who were proud enough of themselves to hold hands in front of the whole school will make a difference for this year's royal court.

"Really," she says, "I just wanted kids to know they are not alone."

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Comments (52)

Thanks for this article. As an educator, I *know* that there are problems that don't get reported, that aren't seen by administrators or faculty, that don't ever get addressed. It's beyond shameful to consider that reporting doesn't necessarily keep kids safe.

I hope that publishing information such as this (Often. Loudly. Backed up with facts.) will help us, as responsible adults, create environments where all of our kids are safe.

These poor kids' stories remind me of the yearly procession of bereaved parents that show up at the capital every year to demand manditory helmet laws after their 17 year old sons have ridden the 200hp motorcycle they bought them into a tree.

One doesn't need an MD to see that the kids featured in this story have deep emotional and mental issues that are far beyond anything the legislature can, or should be involved with.

All kids have the right, and the expectation to a safe and successful school experience, but ultimately, it is the parents influence and care that has the biggest role to play.

Oh, and lest it go unsaid. I'll believe all the specious outrage we're bombarded with is not a cynical, politically motivated campaign to use these kids for an agenda when I read one scrap of concern for the kids that suffer from the #1 bullying issue: obesity.

Good article. Unfortunately, "neutrality" on these issues is like appeasing Hitler. Thomas, I disagree with you. This has nothing to do with mandatory motorcycle laws, an absolutely false analogy. Your comments provide nothing in terms of a constructive suggestion for providing a safe environment for gay and lesbian kids in schools. Do you think the parents should physically accompany their kids to schools to keep them safe? The schools have responsibility to provide a safe environment for all students,and unfortunately sometimes that takes some governmental prodding. A blame the parents approach solves nothing. Maybe you would prefer that gay and lesbian kids be forced hire their own bullies to defend them???

Thank you to Beth Hawkins and MinnPost for this indepth story.

Our son Jacob was harrassed at his high school when students started to guess he was gay. We are grateful to the teachers, his guidance counselor and principal who took action. Jacob was the only out student at his high school at that time. He started a gay/straight alliance there and I know it has helped other gay students realize they are not alone. That is so important when the students are that age.

Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton not only helped the gay students in their school but the whole community. I applaud them for their courage.

I think the people with the deep emotional and mental issues are the religous fundamentalists and their allied haters, bigots and the enablers on the school staffs. If kids are bullied by other kids, the adults can either stop the bullies, expell them, arrest them or enable them. It is obvious in this article that the bullies are being enabled. This shows for me the evil at the heart of the literalist, fundamentalist Christian religion. The rest of the nonreligious haters use this as a front to hide their sick, warped perspectives.

For Swift's analogy to work the kids would have to wear mandatory helmets to defend them from the attacks of people who carry hammers and randomly attack people.

Jim Roth wrote:

"Unfortunately, "neutrality" on these issues is like appeasing Hitler. "

Godwin's Law has hereby been invoked.

Thread over.

What is your evidence that obesity is the number 1 issue? What does that have to do with this callous, inhumane treatment of gays and lesbians? If there is more bullying of the obese, that's because there are far more obese students (and adults) than there are gays and lesbians.
Oh, and by the way, what's the agenda? You don't happen to think that the anti-gay campaign is politically motivated, do you? With Michele Bachman as a representative from that district?
Yours are irrelevant comments that have nothing whatsoever to do with the bullying of gays and lesbians that have resulted in 8 suicides (in one district!), the fear and terror and daily harassment of these kids, the pain they live in. Your comments are mere distractions and do not change the problem of these kids being bullied so much that they'd rather die than continue in this situation.
If this is a "chosen lifestyle," or a "treatable illness," why would ANYONE choose it?

Mr. Swift:
In your short statement you managed to insult the parents of children who have been bullied, or attempted suicide, or committed suicide. You have also labeled every child in the article as having deep emotional and mental issues. Being gay is not a mental issue. Being gay is just being gay, and it's an orientation, not a lifestyle. It's not optional. This article takes the district to task for not doing their job to protect these children, and for turning a blind eye to bullying. Parents cannot monitor their children while the children are in school. That is where teachers and administrators and principals are supposed to step in to provide a safe environment.

To pick up on Tom's point, too often we see parents of children who have suffered some harm in their lives who lobby the state legislature or the u.s. congress to get a law passed in hopes it never happens again. A phenomenon I call the Amy Klobuchar Effect ... everything in society should be covered under federal law.

It helps the parent deal with their grief and guilty conscience that perhaps they should have done something differently in raising their child, but it leaves the rest of us rolling our eyes and asking if the force of government is really required in yet another circumstance and whatever happened to parental responsibility.

But then, I guess you have to be a conservative to accept the notions of self-reliance and dealing with personal matters personally.

This story saddens me incredibly, and makes me angry - at adults that allow this to happen, at kids that don't learn to accept those different from them, and at people like Mr. Swift and Rep. Bachmann that wear their cynicism, divisiveness and discriminatory attitudes like a badge of honor.

I agree that fighting tirelessly for equality for GLBT people (adults and kids) is necessary, but as a parent, I also urge parents of bullied kids to LEAVE hostile places. I know it's an unpopular message, but if the choice is stay where you are and risk your child getting beaten up or becoming so despondent as to consider self-harm, versus moving to a less harmful place, please MOVE. Come to Minneapolis - it is far from perfect, but there is a welcoming contingent of GLBT and GLBT-friendly families in Minneapolis and we'd love to have you.

Again, I agree that fighting discrimination and bullying is absolutely necessary. But it is NOT worth the life of a teenager, so if the choice is facing potential harm in fighting versus walking away and moving to a more welcoming place, please make the cautious decision and keep your child safe.

I guess for some among us who are trying to protect themselves from recognizing the deadly effects of their own biases on some of God's children,...

Any excuse will do.

Meanwhile, I'm forced to ask WHAT IS WRONG with the culture in this NW part of the metro area? It is an undeniable fact that so many of the local parents raise their kids to feel worthless that makes them so likely to feel the need to bully others.

Children who are raised to feel valued, worthwhile and emotionally secure DO NOT feel the need to bully others (unless of course, their parents provide the example that denigrating and bullying others is a worthwhile and even blessed activity-which is blasphemy)

The fact is that ALL children have the right to go to school without being bullied for the things about them that might make them targets for others.

It says a GREAT DEAL about the quality of parenting in the Anoka-Hennepin school district that so many of the children in it's school systems feel so pathetically insecure and are so lacking in a solid, reliable sense of themselves as worthwhile human beings,...

that they feel the need to bully and harass others in order to fulfill their need to identify others with whom they can compare themselves in order to maintain the psychological dodge,...

I'm KNOW I'm pretty worthless but at least I'm not a ________.

Amen to Greg - what is wrong with people who feel the need to bully the LGBT community??

But I want to tack on one thing to what Greg said. This is not just a problem in the NW metro. And this is not just a problem for teens. I have a middle-aged gay friend who lives in the Mankato area. He repeatedly, painfully tells of the isolation he feels there and the bullying he suffers at the hands of adults. I worry about him. He is clearly very emotionally wounded by what he has been through.

Turning a blind eye to the problem only makes it worse. We need to act on this.

This was a very heartbreaking article to read. It was very well-written and informative. I am glad that the information is coming out, though. These kids deserve better.

Mr. Swift, if you wish to blame parents, feel free to blame parents of those kids who have been taught that it's ok to abuse their fellow students.

I'd say that "neutrality" could, and should, include the information for kids, their parents and those Michele B.-friendly right-wing fundamentalist organizations that science has now proven beyond a doubt that homosexuality is not a choice but a difference in genetic makeup. And, from this excellent article, it sounds like grade school is the place to start.

I believe that if Swift and Tester had kids they'd raise them to hate everything and everyone that Swift and Tester were afraid of or that was different and then they'd call all that hatred "conservative" political philosophy. The only things they wouldn't be brought up to hate were bigotry and hypocrisy because those are the essence of "conservative" political philosophy as those two define it.

I commend MinnPost and Beth Hawkins for this insightful and courageous article that captured many of the specifics of the current situation . As a former educator in Anoka-Hennepin, I have seen the frequent bullying. Public perception may be important, but clearly student dignity and safety must be the highest priority. Obviously current neutrality policy does not protect students.
It is difficult to express the admiration I feel for Mr. Fiteek’s courage in speaking out. I understand how very difficult his assertion is having been exposed to the Parent Action League’s diatribes at school board meetings and in the local newspaper. Their supposed Christian actions speak so loudly it is hard to hear what they say.

Finally, I would ask Mr. Swift what should be the parental role of the students performing the bullying? So easy to blame the victims.

"science has now proven beyond a doubt that homosexuality is not a choice but a difference in genetic makeup"

Now *that* has my attention, Bernice. Can you direct us towards the source of your information?

Dee Ann, parents of kids that pick on other kids are failing just as certainly as those that ignore obvious signs of mental disturbance and depression.

It's all character building. I made it clear to my kids that their job at school was to get good grades, and they had no business, *for any reason* bothering other kids trying to do the same. They did an excellent job.

I don't think singling one "victim" group out for special protection over any other is helpful...but then again I'm not pushing an agenda.

Bill, no matter how broad a brush you have, all that wild painting has got to be exhausting...maybe it's time for a nap, eh?

@Swift: "...the kids featured in this story have deep emotional and mental issues..."

That they're gay? This is what almost all of the recent suicides seem to have in common.

"the #1 bullying issue: obesity. "

I haven't heard anything about unusual amounts of obese kids committing suicide. If I'm missing these stories, please enlighten me.

"dealing with personal matters personally"

Can't you see there is a systematic problem with a specific population of kids getting bullied in school? What do you suggest the parents or kids do?

A big part of the problem in this school district was the teachers who interpreted the neutrality policy as meaning "do nothing if a gay child gets bullied, or you will be violating school policy." I wonder if these lazy, ignorant teachers made that excuse after they were confronted about their inaction.

My only quarrel with this excellent article is the part that says: "Held the day before the Day of Silence, students are to mark {the Day of Truth] by talking to classmates about homosexuality from a Christian perspective." This assumes that "a Christian perspective" would be that homosexuality is wrong. As a member of the United Church of Christ, which does have congregations in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, I can state that many Christians, more all the time, do not share this view.

Wouldn't it be nice if the legislature didn't bend to every whim of a special interest group. But we are a long way from good governing.

It would be nice if all kids were brought up to be secure in their own skin. But they aren't, too many parents are fearful.

I do think it's worth a study to find out why that Anoka-Hennepin and even the Forest Lake area seem to be so intolerant. They have been that way for quite some time. Do you think it's the water?

Miss Strandskov wrote:

"I can state that many Christians, more all the time, do not share this view."

Not from what I've been hearing - the Christian prog churches are losing people and the orthodox Christian churches (the ones that actually hold the Bible as a standard) are gaining members.

We Jews have always had Torah and that is our standard - regardless of what the revisionists, obscurantists, hellenists of the past, or the postmodernists of this era have thrown into civil society.

GBLTs are trying to force affirmation then acceptance of their orientations and lifestyles by attempting to overturn Anoka-Hennepin's *neutral* policy by exploiting these tragedies and dancing on the blood of the dead.

My heart goes out to anyone who suffers from bullying. I myself was a loner back when I was a teenager, but never suffered from bullying. This article makes me want to find a way to volunteer and help these children. Self esteem is so important and so hard to find when you are being harassed. I am a strong Christian and strongly believe that our differences are what make us special.

The state sucks as far as it's bullying laws and the only school district in the state that has bullying rules and a GLBT policy is the one getting sued.

Anyone who thinks that that isn't going on in all of the rest of our school districts is an idiot. AH parents are no worse and no better than those in the rest of the state.

40,000 kids, 7 suicides with no certain proof of the reasons for committing the acts. Contagion declaration? It seems reasonably certain that there are other school districts with a greater percentage of suicides. Why are these disctricts not being called out? One kid in a district of 5000 is a worse percentage. There are individual schools with worse percentages! It seems like it is the Anoka-Hennepin school district that is being bullied.

Sexuality is only political because ignorant people have made it so. To some people, it's a political stance.

The leadership (School Board, Superintendent and Educational Supervision) in this northwest part of town need to be locked in a room and "counseled" until they understand this is the 21st Century and it is time to move on. I'm 78 and fortunately have developed the brilliance to move on. LIVE AND LET LIVE! We have more important issues in this society with which to deal.

Neal, first I want to thank you for letting us know what the Jews ("We Jews") think about gay rights. It is always very helpful when one person such as yourself can speak on behalf of an entire religion.

And while I have little doubt that "what [you have] been hearing" is based on a very scientific and methodologically sound sampling, I wonder if you can explain why support for gay rights has actually been growing. A number of opinion polls taken this year indicate that a majority of Americans now favor legal same-sex marriage.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/21/us-gay-marriage-poll-idUSTRE74...

I realize that isn't the same question as whether people are leaving progressive religions for more conservative religions, but if what you have been hearing were true, wouldn't support for same sex marriage and gay rights generally be shrinking instead of growing?

Do you know what is really weird, Neal? That American Jews are actually far more supportive of gay rights and gay marriage than the American population as a whole. Polling has shown that 75 percent of Jews in this country support gay marriage! So when you are talking about "We Jews" in the context of opposing gay rights, you were really only talking about maybe a quarter of Jews, right?

http://pewforum.org/Gay-Marriage-and-Homosexuality/Support-For-Same-Sex-...

I thought maybe that was just American Jews, but it turns out that 60 percent of Israeli Jews also support same sex marriage. Although Israel does not allow same sex marriage, because it does not have civil marriage, gay and lesbian couples are afforded the same legal rights as heterosexual couples and same sex marriages from other countries are recognized.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_and_Judaism

Neal, no one is trying to force acceptance of anything. Acceptance can't be forced - it can only come about by opening hearts and minds. Never fear, you will always be able to harbor all the prejudices you want. What people are trying to "force", though, is their legal rights, and in this particular case, to stop gay teens from killing themselves.

Wikipedia as a source for discussing Halakha? You're joking...right?

Mr. Hintz, believe what you will as you've already convinced yourself that your religious beliefs are true and correct, and you are willing to use the power of the state to enforce them. I could give as evidence what has happened in Massachusetts, Europe, and Canada what happens to those who do not assent to the beliefs of the Pink Hand, though it would not matter to you.

This is merely another skirmish in the war over our civil society.

My daughter was expelled from Anoka after becoming angry with the bullying her gay friend received. My daughter, a 5 foot tall 100 pound and timid danger to society was expelled with no investigation, much less a single question. She told me the harassment was daily, had gone on for the entire year and had become physical. At the hearing, I explained this to the board, that regardless our case, they had a problem they needed to deal with. As I sat in front of "the committee" which consisted of old white guys who made Mitch McConnell look diverse, I realized I was talking to the living dead. This was simply a group of religious fanatics disguised as Administrators. This was 5 YEARS Ago. What saddens me is how many more kids were hurt because of this failure to deal with reality based on religious grounds. This experience, and others in my life, show me what religion is for most people: a justification for their prejudices.

There is truly a sickness in the minds of those who slander the souls of children who have taken their own lives, and their loving parents, in order to absolve bullies and the adults who support them of all responsibility for civility, respectful behavior and, in the case of the school districts, the obligation to provovide a safe learning environment for children.

Neal, when you proport to speak for "[we] Jews," you certainly are not speaking for a single one of the many wonderful people of the Jewish faith that I have known throughout my life. Certainly, there are narrow-minded, biggotted Jews, just as there are Christians, who use their beliefs to justify their hatred of others. They, all of them, are a sad, shabby lot.

@#29
I suppose that you are a far more reliable source of information than Wikipedia. The fact is, even if you ignore the Wikipedia reference, the other references, at the very least, cast doubt on your omnipotency on religions, even Judaism.

@#7
As I've said before, Godwin's law cannot be invoked. It's simply an observation. Godwin himself supports using Nazi references in the proper context. I think this is the proper context. The comparison: ignoring the cruelty resulting in death of gay students is like ignoring the cruelty resulting in death of Jewish people. The holocaust happened because so many chose to turn the other cheek for whatever reason. Doing nothing during the Holocaust, as here, killed people.

It really is something to be criticized for my sourcing by someone who cited "from what I've been hearing" in support of his own argument. Is there something in particular you think is not accurate in the Wikipedia article? Here is a link to the actual poll, which was published in Haaretz:

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/36810/three_in_five_israelis_back_same_s...

Just for fun, here is a passage and a link from a Haaretz editorial on gay marriage:

"The right to wed and start a family is, by law, a basic right, and new MK Nitzan Horowitz, who seeks to bestow that right upon every person, not just those denied by the rabbinate, deserves praise for waging a struggle to attain this right."

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/civil-marriage-for-all-1.27...

Neal, my religious beliefs are personal, and have no bearing on my opinions on other people's civil rights. I would never try to impose my beliefs on the legality of your heterosexual marriage, but you are willing to impose your beliefs on the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

What has the "pink hand" been responsible for, Neal? I'm sure its really, really, really bad, but do you think it compares with the discrimination and violence that gays and lesbians have suffered? This is an article about kids who have killed themseleves because of anti-gay bullying. Are your horror stories really worse than that?

" ... but if what you have been hearing were true, wouldn't support for same sex marriage and gay rights generally be shrinking instead of growing?"

I guess we'll find out who's right come next November, won't we?

Dennis, the question to Neal was rhetorical. We already know who is right about growing support for same sex marriage. I am.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/first-time-majority-americans-favor-le...

To save you the trouble of going to the link, I'll show the numbers here. According to Gallup polling, the percentage of Americans who support same sex marriage has grown as follows:

1996 27 percent
1999 35 percent
2004 42 percent
2005 37 percent
2006 42 percent
2007 46 percent
2008 40 percent
2009 40 percent
2010 44 percent
2011 53 percent

As I pointed out earlier, Gallup is not the only polling outfit that has found that a majority of Americans now support same sex marriage.

What we will find out next November is whether support for same sex marriage has grown enough so that it is supported by a majority at the voting booth. And for what its worth, even if the amendment passes in November, gay marriage is inevitable. If you look at the crosstabs behind the polling, you will see that the younger the group polled, the stronger the support for gay marriage is. 20 years from now, opposition to gay marriage will seem as antiquated as opposition to racial segregation is now.

I meant opposition to desegregation.

Pitiful, sick, and disgusting...

Thank you, Beth, for an outstanding article that speaks for itself. This stuff has got to stop. Neutrality in a bullying issue is wrong. How many suicides is it going to take? And why are there so many incidents in this location. Someone in the school administration has to announce a zero tolerance and stick to it. The picture of Justin Aaberg is simply heartbreaking. On the other hand the picture of Lindstrom and Shelton gives us hope that some day this insanity will end.

And to declare that a much more important issue is bullying over obesity is absurd. Or to try to blame the gay students because they have "deep mental and emotional issues" is a perfect example of a blame the victim mentality only too common among misguided zealots of the right.

Wake up folks, there are plenty of productive, happy, well-adjusted, gay adults who make enormous contributions to our society. Do these folks also have deep mental and emotional issues? Who are you Mr. Swift to make such statements? Do you think that adults who produce sub-third grade smutty cartoons have deep mental and emotional issues?

The hypocrisy of the Bobbsey Twins - Mr. Swift and Mr. Tester - is appalling.

See you in 2012 dudes.

Dan Hintz wrote:

"Neal, first I want to thank you for letting us know what the Jews ("We Jews") think about gay rights. It is always very helpful when one person such as yourself can speak on behalf of an entire religion."

It appears I know more about halakha than you do. To wit:

"Just for fun, here is a passage and a link from a Haaretz editorial on gay marriage:"

First you attempt to use a wikipedia article as a halakhic source. Strike one. Next, you quote a left wing Israeli newspaper as if that is some type of authority on the direction of halakha on homosexuality. Strike two. Your next one oughta be a real hoot.

Miss Kahler wrote:

"The comparison: ignoring the cruelty resulting in death of gay students is like ignoring the cruelty resulting in death of Jewish people."

Homosexuals in the United States are not being hung from the gallows, stripped, shot and thrown into mass graves, deported in mass deportations to death camps, and loosing their civil rights to the extent of being unprotected by law. To make such an analogy, Miss Kahler, desecrates the Jews who where murdered al kiddush Hashem.

Dan Hintz:

If - as you assert - support for same sex marriage is increasing, why has the people of about 30 states voted for defining marriage as between a man and a woman? Answer: Because they have. People know what is right and what is wrong.

We are digressing from the subject of the article.

You asserted:

"opposition to gay marriage will seem as antiquated as opposition to racial segregation is now."

Race is an immutable characteristic; sexual orientation and cross-dressing is not. It is also an immutable fact that Jewish and Christian morality will be around much, much longer than your dreams of a deconstructed civil society.

It is ironic the GBLTs and supporters decry the alleged bigotry of people who believe that heterosexuality is preferred for a well-functioning civil society over homosexuality and its attendant subculture.

The GBLTs and their supporters condemn and attack the very core of Jewish and Christian family, teachings, and morality in what can only be described as overt anti-Semitism and anti-Christian bigotry.

Stopping the harassment of students is exactly what must be done. It is the GBLTs and their rejection of a neutral policy that is driving this ideological attack upon societal norms. Theirs and Beth Hawkins' exploitation of these suicides to normalize the behavior of their subculture is a particularly vile and degraded act.

It is said science is a process of closer and closer approximations of the truth. While I don't think we have 100% proof that homosexuality is purely genetic, we certainly have enough evidence that genetics play a major role in it. The obvious initial study on fruit flies is often cited (http://www.skeptictank.org/gaygene.htm) - And a more recent study showing a multiple gene link (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4215427.stm). We also have an explanation why this would make sense from an evolutionary standpoint both here (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6519-survival-of-genetic-homosexua...) and as well as the multiple expressions of it in nature (http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20718.aspx and http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0722_040722_gayanimal_2....)

So although we may not fully understand the "causes" we do know this is in almost every case not a choice. But because these kids are a small percentage of the population, they will be picked on. It happens to all small populations. But, this population we seem to be less likely to protect because of some people's religious/moral objections.

These are still kids and you may feel the need to put limitations on them. The limitations need to be applied equally. If you don't want a gay couple holding hands in school, then no couples can hold hands in school. We cannot single out a population of students based on something that is not their choice. Kids should not be dying because there are people that don't like them.

Neal, "Race is an immutable characteristic; sexual orientation and cross-dressing is not. It is also an immutable fact that Jewish and Christian morality will be around much, much longer than your dreams of deconstructed civil society"??? What a mouthful of unsupported rhetoric. By whose decree, yours?

Neal, I'll grant you that you know more about halakha (Jewish law, for anyone else here who cares) than I do. I am not sure, however, why you keep making that point.

Contrary to your claim, I didn't cite Wikepedia as a halakhic source. I cited it to point out the fact that a majority of Jews in Israel support gay rights, and that under Israeli civil law (not halakhic law), gay couples are afforded legal benefits and same sex marriages from other countries are recognized. I reviewed all my comments above to be sure, and I haven't made any citations to halakhic law. You have thrown out this strawman and challenged my source (Wikepedia) but haven't chalenged my facts, likely because they are accurate. Lets have it then: do you dispute that a poll showed that 60 percent of Israeli jews suport gay marriage? Do same sex couples not have legal rights in Israel?

I'll let Ms. Kahler speak for herself, but the comparison I wanted you to address was not the comparison between the opression of Jews and the oppression of gays and lesbians. Rather it was between the oppression of gays and lesbians and the victims of the "pink hand" that you seem to think is such a threat.

"If - as you assert - support for same sex marriage is increasing, why has the people of about 30 states voted for defining marriage as between a man and a woman? Answer: Because they have. People know what is right and what is wrong."

You guys are really having a problem with the concept of "increasing." Go look at my chart of the support for gay marriage over time (#35) It wasn't until this year that gay marriage reached majority support, and a lot of those votes were held when support was significantly less.

"Race is an immutable characteristic; sexual orientation and cross-dressing is not."

I can't really speak to cross dressing, but being gay isn't a choice any more than being black or white is.

"It is also an immutable fact that Jewish and Christian morality will be around much, much longer than your dreams of a deconstructed civil society."

Well, it is certainly a fact that what Jewish and Christian morality is pretty subjective and has changed significantly over time. A lot of Jews (most Jews, actually) and Christians, and Jewish and Christian leaders don't see homosexuality as immoral. Did you read the Glean this morning? The first story is about how the former longtime bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is opposing marriage amendment.

http://www.minnpost.com/dailyglean/2011/12/08/33677/lutheran_bishop_admo...

"The GBLTs and their supporters condemn and attack the very core of Jewish and Christian family, teachings, and morality in what can only be described as overt anti-Semitism and anti-Christian bigotry."

Now that's pretty harsh. Are the 75 percent of American Jews who support gay marriage anti-semites? Are the 60 percent of Israeli Jews who support gay marriage condemning and attacking the very core of Jewish family, teachings and morality? Is the former ELCA bishop an anti-Christian bigot?

"people who believe that heterosexuality is preferred for a well-functioning civil society over homosexuality and its attendant subculture."

Neal, I am curious about what you think this "attendant subculture" is, and why exactly gay marriage is a threat to a well functioning civil society. My gay and lesbian friends aren't really any different than my heterosexual friends, other than they are in same sex relationships. They go to work, they raise their kids, they mow the lawn, they barbeque in the backyard, they celebrate Christmas and really just do all the things that everyone else does. I suspect, Neal, that you don't really know any gay people, and that's too bad. Because if you did, you would see just how ridiculous all your talk about morality and functioning civil society really is.

Neal,
I neglected to comment on your clever reference to Godwin's law, which I doubt many readers understand. Thanks for the lucid explanation. Since you seem to be so knowledgeable about it you could have mentioned that Godwin has also acknowledged that comparisons to Hitler are sometimes appropriate. You might discover that gays were also targeted by Hitler and my analogy is not entirely inappropriate.

Perhaps the enlightened amongst us were too preoccupied with impressing the world how on how tolerant they are so they failed to notice I stated the following:

"Stopping the harassment of students is exactly what must be done."

That is what the purpose of anti-harassment policies are minus the politics. I will reiterate that it is the GBLTs and their rejection of a neutral policy that is driving this ideological attack, and to exploit these suicides to normalize the behavior of their subculture is a particularly vile and degraded act.

Eric Hall says:

"Kids should not be dying because there are people that don't like them."

People do not commit suicide merely because someone doesn't "like" them. There are far deeper psychological issues that drives a person to suicide. Does "liking" signify tolerance or acceptance? Once you realize GBLTs do not want tolerance, they want acceptance, you can figure out why they are dancing on blood.

Mr. Roth stated:

"What a mouthful of unsupported rhetoric. By whose decree, yours?"

Thank you for responding with a reasoned, cogent argument.

"Since you seem to be so knowledgeable about it you could have mentioned that Godwin has also acknowledged that comparisons to Hitler are sometimes appropriate. You might discover that gays were also targeted by Hitler and my analogy is not entirely inappropriate."

Homosexuals were at the highest echelons of the Nazi movement in the Sturmabteilung. It was natural for them to violently oppose Jews since Judaism opposes homosexual behavior. The violence perpetrated by the homosexualists against the Jews came back to haunt them beginning with the Night of the Long Knives.

Mr. Hintz wrote:

"Lets have it then: do you dispute that a poll showed that 60 percent of Israeli jews suport gay marriage? Do same sex couples not have legal rights in Israel? "

Yes, I dispute the poll. Homosexuals have basic human rights in Israel. The left wing Supreme Court wants to go farther, however, they know not to push their luck.

"I can't really speak to cross dressing, but being gay isn't a choice any more than being black or white is."

That's what you believe. I don't.

"The first story is about how the former longtime bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is opposing marriage amendment."

I am unimpressed. I'm Jewish, they are Christian. The ELCA can do as it wishes.

"75 percent of American Jews…60 percent of Israeli Jews…"

Another poll. Unnamed. Unsubstantiated. No information on who commissioned the poll. No information how it was conducted. No information on how many people were polled. No information on the political ideology of the organization conducted the poll. Unsubstantiated, inconclusive.

"…Israeli Jews who support gay marriage condemning and attacking the very core of Jewish family, teachings and morality? Is the former ELCA bishop an anti-Christian bigot?"

One can be born a Jew or Christian and turn against their religion, people and heritage.

"You have thrown out this strawman and challenged my source (Wikepedia) but haven't chalenged my facts…"

I am stating that Wikipedia is an unreliable source. It is incorrect to state I was using a strawman argument.

"Neal, I am curious about what you think this "attendant subculture" is, and why exactly gay marriage is a threat to a well functioning civil society."

Take a look at the TC Pride festivals and the homosexual subculture in San Francisco, New York, and to a lesser extent, Minneapolis. There's your answer.

@#38
"Homosexuals in the United States are not being hung from the gallows, stripped, shot and thrown into mass graves, deported in mass deportations to death camps, and loosing their civil rights to the extent of being unprotected by law."

Oh?

I'm not being delusional when I remember reports of several people being murdered for being gay. The method of murder is irrelevant. In both cases, people were outright killed for what they were (or at least appeared to be).

I'm not being delusional when I remember that gay people are not allowed to marry in many states, and often face legal hurdles for caring for and visiting their loved ones in times of dire need and sometimes at the end of life. Do you think being unable to visit your loved one while they are sick or dying is a matter of human rights?

I'm not being delusional when I read that gay kids are being bullied to the point of suicide. A pattern of abuse, fear, and suicide rates could also be observed during the years of the holocaust and thereafter by Jews and those that supported them (see, e.g., Suicide and the Holocaust" by David Lester). Surely you don't think those people were simply mentally unstable, do you?

Tell me, are any one of the lives lost by gay people any less consequential than any one of those lost by Jews during WWII? Or is this simply a contest as to the numbers and the horrendousness of their deaths?

Sorry Neal. I was trying to keep my comments succinct and not write an entire editorial when I made the statement, "Kids should not be dying because there are people that don't like them." Yes, there is something more than just not being liked. However, it doesn't have to go much deeper than that. A young adolescent seeking the relief of being bullied or isolated may not fully understand the permanence of suicide. So in seeking relief, they do something drastic.

No one is asking you personally to be accepting. But a government institution should not be denying someone rights or isolating a population of people for something that is part of who they are, whether by choice or not, provided it does not infringe on the rights of another, or the law/rule is applied equally and is within the Constitution. I don't have to accept people with hazel eyes or that drive blue cars, but a school better not be taking away someone's rights because of those things.

Finally, on your comments on the pride festivals and the "subculture." Whatever things that happen that you find offensive is not isolated to the LGBT community. I assume you've heard of Sturgis? Have you been to ANY bar in downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night? Behavior that should not occur in public happens outside of the gay community as well. To try to pin bad behavior on the fact that someone is gay is absurd.

"I assume you've heard of Sturgis?"

All pertenant laws are strictly enforced during Bike Week. Fact is, people are hauled into jail for much milder behavior enfractions than one might see during the Big Gay parade on Hennepin Ave.

"Behavior that should not occur in public happens outside of the gay community as well."

But nowhere else is it not only tolerated, but "celebrated".

This is a road gay rights activists avoid like the plague Eric, and for good reason.

BTW, I thank you for the "(not) gay gene" link. Although it surpasses AGW for unsupported psuedo-science at least you had the integrity to post it.

According to Neal, my wife and I must be part of the "homosexual subculture" for participating in in the TC Pride festival along with lots of other straight people.

The fact that some SS officers were gay apparently means gays were not murdered alongside Jews.

And declaring oneself "moral" apparently means one can't be a bigot.

Thanks goodness my vote cancels his.

Miss Kahler asserted:

"I'm not being delusional when I remember reports of several people being murdered for being gay."

Which is a criminal offense.

"I'm not being delusional when I remember that gay people are not allowed to marry in many states…[do] you think being unable to visit your loved one while they are sick or dying is a matter of human rights?"

Beyond the scope of this article.

This is where it gets hyperbolic:

"I'm not being delusional when I read that gay kids are being bullied to the point of suicide. A pattern of abuse, fear, and suicide rates could also be observed during the years of the holocaust and thereafter by Jews and those that supported them…"

and

"The comparison: ignoring the cruelty resulting in death of gay students is like ignoring the cruelty resulting in death of Jewish people."

If you imply the "cruelty resulting in death of gay students” at the Anoka-Hennepin School District is analogous to the “cruelty resulting in death of Jewish people" in Nazi Europe, it is your burden to prove the following:

1. Homosexuals are being transported to and detained in concentration camps, slave labor camps, or extermination camps;
2. Violent riots are being organized against homosexuals;
3. Homosexuals are subject to deportation and genocide;
4. Homosexuals are placed under surveillance or deprived of passports without cause;
5. Homosexuals are murdered by mobile killing squads;
6. Homosexual prisoners are subjected to brutal third degree methods or torture as official government policy;
7. Relatives of homosexuals are imprisoned;
8. Homosexuals are executed without trial;
9. Homosexuals are subjected to "Night and Fog" decrees under which they are charged with an offense and are either executed within a week or secretly transported without being permitted to communicate with their family and friends;
10. Homosexuals are subject to slave labor;
11. Homosexuals are subject to forced medical experimentation at concentration or extermination camps; or
12. Any combination of the above.

I await your evidence, Miss Kahler. This should prove interesting.

Mr. Hall wrote

"No one is asking you personally to be accepting. A government institution should not be denying someone rights or isolating a population of people for something that is part of who they are, whether by choice or not, provided it does not infringe on the rights of another, or the law/rule is applied equally and is within the Constitution."

This is obscurantism. The law and social policy applies differently to a protected class. California, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Minneapolis are examples of what happens when the State uses its power to forcibly compel acceptance of the unacceptable and social constructs that have no basis in Anglo-American jurisprudence, American culture and religious heritage. I can cite objective proof, however, it is beyond the scope of the article under discussion.

I will reiterate my opinion on the subject of the article. For the purposes of this subject, it is dispositive on my part.

Stopping the harassment of students is what must be done. That is the purpose of anti-harassment policies are minus the politics. The GBLTs and their rejection of a neutral policy is driving their ideological attack. Their exploitation of suicides to advance their objective to normalize the behavior of their subculture is a particularly vile and degraded act.

Mr. Quimby wrote:

"And declaring oneself "moral" apparently means one can't be a bigot."

I will suppose you failed to read my assertions concerning GBLTs and their de facto condemnation of core Jewish and Christian beliefs. Don't think the progs and GBLTs are as pure as the driven snow, Mr. Quimby. They aren't.

My vote cancels yours.

@#48
Ah. So it is a contest as to which group "suffered more." Yes, I can compare them because murder is murder and institutionalized harassment and demoralization is equivalent, no matter the methods.

1. Homosexuals have been and continue to be murdered because they are homosexual.

2. Homosexuals have been and continue to be harassed, sometimes to the point of death, because they are homosexual.

3. Homosexuals' relatives have been and continue to be harassed because they are related to homosexuals. (Feel free to read the article in its entirety.)

4. The government, both federal and local, have institutionalized the second class citizenship of homosexuals through policies like DOMA, DADT, and this "neutrality" policy because they are homosexuals.

5. Not one of the above can be justified by anything but categorical hatred. If you wish to provide some biological or moral reason for these, I would like to point you to some literature "justifying" the same measures used before and during WWII.

Just because the method and number of deaths isn't as grandiose as the Holocaust does not mean that the deaths of homosexuals in this country and the deaths of Jews in Europe don't have a common enabler: "Neutrality." For that matter, blacks in our country suffered from the same "neutrality" during the Jim Crow era.

If you somehow feel that the deaths of gay persons due to cruelty somehow lessens the importance of the deaths of Jewish persons due to cruelty, you have some pretty big issues to deal with.

Miss Kahler makes an analogy then refuses to provide a valid counterargument when challenged on the basis of objective fact.

Any further discussion will be a waste of my time.

Rosalind;The allegations of

Rosalind;

The allegations of harassment and bullying went far beyond hand-holding: http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2011/12/bullying-gay-and-lesbian...

Indeed, if you want more detail than that there should be links embedded in that piece that will take you to the students' legal complaint, which is tough reading indeed.