District faces suit, investigation over alleged gay harassment

AFTERNOON EDITION

A couple of prominent national groups are suing the Anoka-Hennepin School District alleging ongoing harassment of gay students. Says Elizabeth Dunbar at MPR: “The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center announced the lawsuit during a news conference in Champlin. The suit was filed on behalf of several students who claim they were harassed for their sexual orientation. The groups had requested the district change its sexual orientation curriculum policy, which says that sexual orientation issues aren’t part of the regular curriculum. The policy instructs teachers to remain neutral if the subject comes up in class. During the news conference, one of the plaintiffs, 14-year-old Kyle Rooker, said school officials haven’t done enough to address the harassment he’s experienced. He said teachers wanted to help him but didn’t know how because of the policy.”

Simultaneously, the feds have revealed their investigation into such incidents. John Stevens of Britain’s Daily Mail writes: “A Minneapolis school district is under federal investigation for infringing civil rights because it refused to add lessons promoting homosexuality to the curriculum. Teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin district were told that they must ‘remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation.’ The school district rejected the introduction of lessons plans designed to raise awareness about lesbian, gay and transsexual issues for children as young as four.”

Jeremy Herb of the Strib reports on the latest Iowa polling … which gives Michele Bachmann a nearly 3-to-1 lead over T-Paw. “The poll, from The Conservative Journal, has Bachmann with a commanding lead at 33 percent. Pawlenty follows her in second at 13 percent, one point ahead of Mitt Romney in third. Both candidates have been campaigning heavily in Iowa, and both have run multiple TV ads in the Hawkeye State. For Bachmann, the poll is one more data point that shows she’s the frontrunner in Iowa, where Romney has said he’s not planning to campaign as aggressively as he did in 2008. Romney is also not participating in the Ames Straw Poll in August, the next big milestone for the 2012 campaign. Many pundits say Bachmann is the favorite.”

Mike Mullen of City Pages covers political prankster Nick Espinoza’s latest — the “glitter-bombing” of Ms. Bachmann’s husband’s clinic: “In pictures released by Nick Espinosa, the same gay rights activist who glitter-bombed Newt Gingrich in May, protesters in barbarian costumes are seen showering the lobby of the Christian counseling clinic where young gay people are sent to get scared straight. The costumes, and Espinosa’s tweeted messages like, ‘barbarians at the gates,’ are a reference to Marcus Bachmann’s infamous description of gay people as ‘barbarians’ who ‘need to be disciplined.’ Looks like the barbarians have taken their revenge.”

Both hiring and the unemployment rate ticked up in June. Dee DePass’s Strib story says: “Minnesota’s golf courses, hotel and restaurant owners and other employers added a welcome 13,200 jobs during June. Yet the state’s unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent to 6.7 percent. But state officials Thursday were happy both with the job gains and to return to their own jobs after the state shutdown. … The largest job gains were created in the leisure and hospitality sector in June. It added 8,000 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities added 5,000 jobs, mostly thanks to retailers.”

At The Street, Chao Deng reports on the national unemployment claims increase of 10,000. He says: “Some of the uptick was due to a state government shutdown in Minnesota which caused 1,750 new claims from state employees. The slash in government workers along with uncertainty in the auto sector after the Japanese earthquake have ‘clouded some of the signals from the initial claims data,’ according to a report by Barclays Capital Research.”

Madeleine Baran of MPR reports on reaction from health industry pros to the budget deal. The more official types profess to be pleased. “Others put it a different way. Rachel Voller gathered around a table with colleagues at the Mental Health Consumer Survivor Network of Minnesota to examine the just-released bill that will now guide much of their work. ‘There wasn’t champagne glasses and us thinking that we did a fabulous job and got all the programs in place and all the funding in place that we wanted,’ said Voller, the group’s acting director. ‘However it wasn’t a pity party with us crying and us leaning on one another’s shoulders.’ … Here’s a list of some of the cuts:
*The budget places restrictions on child care assistance. It reduces payments for child care providers who care for children from low-income families.
*It makes it more difficult for some low-income adults to receive General Assistance, the state’s cash assistance program for people who cannot work due to an illness or disability.
It cuts funding for emergency assistance to help families pay past-due rent and avoid eviction.
It makes it more difficult for families to access the state’s family welfare program.
And it moves about 8,000 adults who earn more than 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline — about $22,000 a year — off MinnesotaCare, the state’s health insurance program for people who cannot afford coverage. Instead, they’ll receive vouchers to buy private insurance.”

The AP reports on an Iowa guy who … well … “Authorities have added charges against a Waterloo man who they say dressed as a woman for a scheme to pass checks that later bounced. Authorities say that in October, Cannon wore women’s clothing to get a driver’s license in a woman’s name. Police say the 43-year-old Cannon opened an account at Veridian Credit Union and later wrote checks using the bogus license and signing the woman’s name. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that Paul Cannon faces theft and forgery charges. But authorities have now charged him with first-degree theft, interference and driving while suspended in connection with a traffic stop in October. Police say Cannon presented documents identifying him as a woman during the stop.” I can just hear it, “Come on officer, are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?”

Bill McAuliffe and Mike Hughlett of the Strib check out the heat wave’s impact on livestock: “The stress on farm animals caused a die-off worse than some growers have seen in nearly 30 years, said Byron Hogberg, Farm Services Administration director in Renville County in southwestern Minnesota. The greatest number of losses may be in turkeys. ‘There’s a lot of dollars out there that have been lost,’ said Hogberg, adding that carcass processors in the area have run out of capacity to take more dead animals. The losses are badly timed for cattle producers, given that prices are currently $1,000 to $2,000 per cow, 25 percent to 30 percent higher than a year ago.”

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Jim Camery on 07/21/2011 - 03:44 pm.

    I support Espinoza’s cause but certainly not his tactics. Grandstanding like that doesn’t do anything to advance his cause.

  2. Submitted by Brett Johnson on 07/21/2011 - 03:50 pm.

    That Daily Mail is shite, as the Brits would say. The author is stretching the facts. Don’t put any faith in that bit of ‘reporting.’

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/21/2011 - 04:41 pm.

    Way back in the early 80’s when I was teaching public school, among the rules in my classroom, based on the principles of “Assertive Discipline” was this one:

    “Treat people and objects with respect.”

    There were only five such rules. They were straightforward and simple. The respect rule was easily used to discipline any student who treated another disrespectfully, no matter WHAT the taunt used or other disrespectful action taken.

    “Fag, fairie, dyke,” etc. were obviously not allowed, but neither were “dumb jock, airhead, red apple, etc. (this was “Indian Country.”)?

    As for helping kids who were struggling with issues of sexual attraction, inclination and behavior, it seems to me that being “neutral” would imply that such students be dealt with and helped in a completely even-handed manner, as would hopefully be the case with any student who might be struggling with the issues of his or her life.

    But somehow, I suspect the problem in Anoka/Hennepin is that school staff fear a noisy, vehemently vocal minority of the district’s residents who are inclined to threaten the jobs of teachers and staff who pursue neutrality in ways that might violate their very “conservative” beliefs.

    For such “conservative” folks, “neutrality” means that their children should NEVER be disciplined when those children are expressing their parents’ beliefs, no matter how disrespectful those expressions might be.

    I suspect that the administration and school board of Anoka/Hennepin are in for a rough ride since their bowing to that vocal minority is likely, now, to cost their school district a great deal of money,…

    But even if that becomes the case, that vocal minority will STILL demand that “neutrality” must not preclude their darling children from harassing those they perceive to be “dykes” and “fags” (and thereby, in their own minds, trying to save those unfortunate kids from going straight to hell).

  4. Submitted by Kyle Thomas on 07/21/2011 - 09:26 pm.

    Espinoza does no justice to his cause by assaulting people he does not agree with. Yes it’s glitter today, but what would be going too far? Spit? Pennies? Hurling a doll during a debate? Espinoza is not a political crusader and not even a prankster, it’s not really all that funny. More of a self important kid who has too much time on his hands. Maybe if he (or anyone else for that matter) turned this passion into actual change, organization, and efforts instead of trying to stage attention seeking juvenile stunts progress could be made.
    I understand from Greg’s post above his classroom was a room of civility and order, do we not expect that from each other. Fine to disagree completely with the Bachman’s center, but does that then make it ok for this kid to come onto the property and throw stuff at the organizer whatever it is?

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