Anoka-Hennepin Fires Back at Rolling Stone Article on District Bullying | Politics
The Anoka-Hennepin School District is firing back after an article in Rolling Stone magazine article says the district may have contributed to student suicides by cultivating an “extreme anti-gay climate.”
The article is titled “One Town's War on Gay Teens” and will be published in the Feb. 16 issue.
It tells the stories of various students in the district who were bullied and/or committed suicide. Much of the article is told from the perspective of Fred Moore Middle School student Brittany Geldert, who says she was bullied while in the school district.
The article says that the administrators in the district were “strangely unresponsive” to Brittany’s claims of bullying, “even though bullying was a subject often discussed in school-board meetings.” The article also says adults refused to come to her aid “for fear of violating the district-wide policy requiring school personnel to stay ‘neutral’ on issues of homosexuality.”
“As Brittany vainly cried out for help, the school board was busy trying to figure out how to continue tactfully ignoring the existence of LGBT kids like her,” the article says.
The school district fired back, saying they take action when they get reports of bullying or students using harassing language, and there are consequences, up to and including expulsion. The statement from the district went on to say the Rolling Stone article presents “a grossly distorted portrayal of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, its schools and its communities.”
“Three or four highly critical individuals do not represent the many quality administrators and 2,700 highly professional teachers who care deeply about our students and work each day not only to educate them, but also to keep them safe,” the school district said.
The article claims that Christian activists who "consider gays an abomination forced a measure through the school board forbidding the discussion of homosexuality in the district's public schools” and that while adults "were distracted by endless policy discussions, the entire district became a place of dread for students.”
The district says bullying has never been tolerated in the district, and that the School Board and superintendent went on record stating that staff are required to intervene in all instances of bullying or harassment, and if they do not they face discipline.
The district also claims that the article did not try to find both sides of the story.
“The reporter could have chosen to interview countless teachers – including Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) advisors – who represent a wide spectrum of opinions,” district officials said. “Either the reporter chose not to interview them, or, if she did speak with them, she chose not to include their voices in the story.”
“Our schools have caring staff who support all students,” the school district said. “That is not to say that the schools are perfect. We know that students have been bullied and that students have used inappropriate language …. When a problem comes to our attention, we deal with it.”
To read the article, click here.
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