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Michele Bachmann to emcee fundraiser for group campaigning against anti-bullying-law rollout

Remember the red-hot battle over the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s efforts to combat bullying of LGBT students? The one that drew national attention when the district was named a suicide contagion area?

Two and a half years after the landmark settlement of a civil-rights suit brought by students, religious-right activists are stoking the embers. An outgrowth of the Parents Action League, the group that for well over a decade lobbied against protections for gay and lesbian students, the Minnesota Child Protection League is a campaign against the rollout of the state’s anti-bullying law, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, signed into law last spring.

On Saturday, Rep. Michele Bachmann is scheduled to emcee a fundraiser for the organization. On Monday members of the group are expected to pack the district’s school board meeting to speak against the adoption of a long-sought LGBT-affirming policy.

The fundraiser, “The Raging War on Kids: Launching the Resistance,” will also feature the parents of a Massachusetts teen at the center of a high-profile “medical child abuse” case. Recast as “indoctrination,” LGBT rights have been rolled into an agenda of issues where Bachmann and supporters believe their religious freedoms are being eroded.

A painful two-decade struggle

For families and teachers in Anoka-Hennepin, it’s just the latest salvo in a painful struggle that reaches back two decades. From virtually the moment the district announced the March 2013 agreement that ended the federal suit and investigations by the U.S. departments of Justice and Education, parents and teachers have complained that implementation is all over the map.

Some schools have charged headlong into creating inclusive environments, they say, while in others staff still fear addressing issues involving students’ perceived gender or sexual orientation. Confusion as to what teachers and other adults may say to students persists in many places, they say.

The Bush Foundation recently awarded the district $200,000 to replicate successful efforts developed by some schools to train student “bystanders” to set a positive and respectful tone. (The Bush Foundation underwrites MinnPost’s education coverage but is not involved in editorial decisionmaking. The foundation was not consulted or made aware of this story.)

The current flare-up is illustrative of the longer fight. In the months before the district settled the suit, administrators announced the formation of an anti-bullying task force. In July of 2013, the committee delivered nine recommendations to the school board, which pushed the issue down the road.

Eventually, the board asked the task force to come up with “action steps,” which were presented at its August meeting. Recommendation No. 3 calls on the district to “honor and celebrate the contributions of diverse people and families in our community, country, and world, including the LGBT community.”

Striking a note that was heard over and over again during the two-year fight at the Capitol to pass an anti-bullying law, members of the Child Protection League argued that the task force recommendations had nothing to do with harassment.

‘A thinly veiled strategy to indoctrinate’

“It is, rather, a thinly veiled strategy to indoctrinate our children and our community into affirming and celebrating all sexual activities, no matter how morally wrong and unsafe, including activities engaged in by lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transgenders,” a league action alert explained.

“OutFront Minnesota has recently officially announced the newest addition to its list of those to be honored — queers,” it continued. “They continue to push the envelope on who and what we must celebrate, honor and affirm, not for their achievements, but for their choice of sexual behavior.”

For years, the league pushed the district to promote restorative — or “pray away the gay” —   therapy for children confronting issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The congresswoman’s husband, Marcus Bachmann, has claimed success in converting gays to heterosexuality.

It’s unknown whether the board will vote on the task force recommendations Monday; the agenda has not yet been posted.

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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/18/2014 - 01:03 pm.

    In my opinion raising money to help pay for private school tuition would be a much better approach.

  2. Submitted by jason myron on 09/18/2014 - 01:14 pm.

    So….

    their flyer looks like a circus tent…oh, I see what they did there.

  3. Submitted by Jan Arnold on 09/18/2014 - 01:34 pm.

    Promote Bulling and Harrassment?

    Recommendation No. 3 calls on the district to “honor and celebrate the contributions of diverse people and families in our community, country, and world, including the LGBT community.”

    So, because I may not honor or celebrate the contributions of the group involved I can overlook them being bullied? If I don’t believe in organized religion the kids of this parents group are open season for bulling and being pushed into lockers?

    It works all ways, one day your beliefs will be the one being challenged and you will want the protection given the group you are against today.

    Has the school district ever considered creating a separate school for the kids of this group. It seems it would be less expensive and make life easier if they were just put in their own little world and let the rest of the population live their lives as they want to.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/18/2014 - 03:05 pm.

      Separate… but equal?

      What you are proposing is called segregation.

    • Submitted by melissa thompson on 09/18/2014 - 07:11 pm.

      seperate school

      For these folks who claim that the mere existence of gay people is against their religion, who imply they only want their kids taught within the narrow confines of their religion they have the option to send their kids to a faith-based school of their choice.

      But it not legal for the district to take that group’s religious beliefs and use them to shape, mold or reject district policy. It also can not be used as it’s being used here to discriminate against students just to avoid offending this one small religious group.

  4. Submitted by Mark Abeln on 09/18/2014 - 03:08 pm.

    Separate but equal???

    Separate but equal will not work. Trying to get “others” to go to a separate school so you are not bothered is not the way to get people to get along with the wide and rich diversity that is the world today. That is not the way to teach our children.

  5. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 09/18/2014 - 03:27 pm.

    The subject matter aside,

    It always ought to make you wonder, if you find yourself naming your group as the opposite of what you want to accomplish. I suppose if your market demographic is the deeply confused, it’s all OK.

    I checked what Justina Pelletier was about and it hasn’t the slightest thing to do with LGBT issues or bullying (it seems to have been about the parental right to make medical choices for a child that the medical/child welfare establishment deems idiosyncratic or even abusive). Always interesting when your headliner is a non-sequitur, as well.

  6. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 09/18/2014 - 03:33 pm.

    I believe the phrase used to jusify your suggestion was called “separate but equal.” No matter what you call it, it is just a form of “racism. “

  7. Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/18/2014 - 04:07 pm.

    I wonder how well Bachmann would take the medicine

    Wow! She is still strange.

    Does anyone really honestly believe that she would have stood for any of her kids being bullied? I don’t for a second.

    There are more ways to be harassed these days – going online, kids can be mean to their victim at every turn & they can gang up even outside the local environment.

    Given that scenario, it makes sense to have some kind of law against “Lord of the Flies.”

  8. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/18/2014 - 04:20 pm.

    Bullying

    For conservatives of the Bachmann-ilk, bullying is a feature, not a bug. It is important for them to have some group, preferably one that has historically been powerless or marginalized, to label as less than worthy. Their whole worldview is premised on their superiority. If official recognition of that “superiority” is denied, nothing makes sense anymore.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/18/2014 - 04:42 pm.

      I think you might be on to something

      The bully mindset does appear to be a common mindset on the far right
      and the shortest way to to gain, is by diminishing someone else; preferably vulnerable people.

      As though there’s never enough to go around.

      And it explains why they feel put upon, when people of means are expected to share
      a little more than the poorest people in a society: they feel they accomplished what they did all on their own & owe nothing to the community they grew up in.

      The essence of the Prosperity Gospel as promised by the conman televangelists.

      I don’t think it suits everyone, but there is a wing it describes.

  9. Submitted by jason myron on 09/18/2014 - 04:50 pm.

    These evangelicals

    have completely lost it. They’re hanging on to relevance in a modern society by their nails.

  10. Submitted by melissa thompson on 09/18/2014 - 07:05 pm.

    District is violating the establishment clause

    In all the times these people have come before our school board not once have they been told “I’m sorry, but this is an official meeting of a public school board and religious discussion for the purpose of harassment or proselyting is prohibited and won’t be tolerated.”

    Yet Tom Heidemann had no problem telling Tammy Aaberg to stop talking, or Michael McGee or myself and we were all attempting to advocate for our kids who being treated badly on their watch. So much for our free speech. And with official appointment of Bryan Lindquist of PAL, the continued employment of Laurie Thompson of PAL and allowing Barb Anderson of PAL a season pass to our meetings, bigotry not only gets a seat at the table, it get a microphone and in at least one case it’s actually drawing a paycheck.

    Their opposition to any recognition of anything LGBTQ to include students, families and people in history is based solely on their narrow religious beliefs. The district actually considering those beliefs as justification to reject recommendation #3 and continue to discriminate is unconstitutional.

    The question is, who will hold them accountable?

  11. Submitted by Jerry Von Korff on 09/18/2014 - 08:31 pm.

    Priorities

    What we need is for these parents to organize to fight for better science education, better reading, writing and math instead of constantly using their school district as a forum to play out the culture wars. How about bringing people together and uniting around the things that can unite us.

    Most folks in the religious right and the religious left, believers and non-believers, republicans and democrats and independents really want their schools to help all students excel. If you stay off of the fights about evolution, people of all stripes are likely to get excited about better science education. So why constantly battle about evolution, when we could come together around much better science. Most folks of every ilk want their schools to be safe and welcoming. So why spend all our time fighting about the one issue that divides people.

    Could it be that some folks are professional dividers, have nothing positive to offer, are unwilling and unable to expend the hard work necessary to help their schools achieve excellence.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/19/2014 - 12:44 pm.

      Teaching

      Evolution IS science and to take it out of our schools would be a huge blow to our children’s education. It’s the basis of all biology. Dropping evolution would endanger student’s understanding of how plants and animals came to be, how viruses like eboli evolve, and how ecosystems work, just to name a few.

      Get rid of evolution from schools and you might as well forget about any kind of medical degree for your kids.

      While you’re at it, you’ll also have to ban all geology from schools as they’re closely related. Wànt to know where those fossils come from? Look in the rocks, baby.

      Oh, and then you would have to ban astronomy too as planetary formation is how we got those rocks in the first place.

      Here’s a practical suggestion for you: keep science in science class and put religious mumbo jumbo in the churches. Or maybe the social studies class where children can learn about the religions of the world.

  12. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/19/2014 - 09:34 am.

    I’m no fan..

    of Michelle Bachmann. But at least she is getting out of politics unlike a lot of others who are absolutely consumed and addicted to the power that it gives them. We have plenty of examples in our own state of politicians on both sides of the aisle who run their mouths incessantly.

    There are plenty in DC and St. Paul who would serve as a good argument for term limits.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/19/2014 - 12:27 pm.

      Limits

      We have term limits already. It’s called “voting.”

      • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/24/2014 - 07:01 pm.

        Amateurs make the Best Experts

        Thanks for the clear statement.

        Term limits is a silly thing to enact.

        It merely reduces the lobby price of politicians.
        It increases the pool of former politicians to lobby & influence peddle for foreign governments.

        The argument about term limits assumes that anyone off the street could step into government and instantly have all the tools necessary to do an adequate job. Or that its a job with no prerequisites at all, that its all solely on-the-job training & anyone can do it. “After all, ANYONE can have an opinion.”

        Politics is treated as though all politicians are expected to do is rubber stamp legislation that appears on their desks magically, whether written by a “think” tank or industry for their own benefit.

        (Nowadays, they even get to overrule scientists, doctors and other experts!)

        Some politicians just aren’t rocket scientists, though should we turn out all politicians for neophytes?

        (edited for clarity)

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