mncpl

Minnesota Republicans, the Tea Party, and the religious right are teaming up to stop a bill that aims to make schools safer.

As the legislative session approaches, a group of veteran anti-LGBT activists are touring the state to rally Republicans and Tea Party groups in opposition to the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, a bill to curb bullying in the state’s public school system.

Republicans

On Tuesday (Jan. 21), the 7th District Minnesota Republicans sponsored a presentation by the Minnesota Child Protection League’s Barb Anderson at Hunters Ridge Church in Hutchinson.

(See our report Religious group calls Minnesota safe schools bill “child exploitation” for background on the anti-LGBT efforts of The Minnesota Child Protection League)

The Republicans in the 7th congressional district will also host the Minnesota Child Protection League at its candidate forum on Jan. 25. The GOP has invited all announced Republican candidates for governor, US Senate and 7th congressional district candidates, according to an invite being distributed among Republican activists.

Barb Anderson has long opposed rights for LGBT people, and fought in the Anoka-Hennepin School District to keep an anti-LGBT policy on the books.

(See our profile of Anderson and other members of the Minnesota Child Protection League)

MNCPL is also sending out a sample resolution to Republican caucuses which will be held on Feb. 4.

That resolution states in part:

The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, falsely called an “anti-bullying bill,” will not stop bullying; and
Whereas, its definition of bullying is so broad it could punish students as “bullies” merely for expressing a different opinion or belief.
Whereas, its stated purpose is to create a cultural shift in the values and attitudes of the school and the community; and
Whereas, it introduces controversial and sexually explicit course material throughout all classes to accustom students to various forms of sexual diversity

Tea Party

Despite statements to the contrary that insist the Tea Party movement exists to fight for free markets and limited government, many of Minnesota’s Tea Party chapters have hosted MNCPL and its culture war presentations — many more than once.

MCPL representative Susan Richardson spoke at the East Metro Tea Party meeting on Oct. 2.

Anderson spoke on Oct. 10 at the North Metro Tea Party, and as Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen notes, several prominent Republicans were in attendance.

Anderson also gave a presentation at the Southwest Metro Tea Party on Nov. 18.

Anderson was back for a second round at the North Metro Tea Party on Nov. 14. She was the first speaker. Failed gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer (he’s also running for Bachmann’s seat) followed her on stage.

At the South Metro Tea Party, Richardson spoke on Oct. 28, Nov. 19 and Dec. 17.
Anderson was back at the North Metro Tea Party on Jan. 9 for a third appearance. She spoke just before Rep. Peggy Scott, Republican from Andover took to the podium.

Scott isn’t the only Republican to appear at a meeting where MNCPL has done its presentation. State Sen. Michelle Benson, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (who is also running for governor), Phil Krinkie who is running for Michele Bachmann’s old seat, and former state Sen. Ted Lillie have all been at these meetings.

Another member of the group, Mimi Anderson, gave the group’s spiel at the Liberty Tea Party Patriots in Maple Grove on Jan. 9.

At the next meeting of the The Rochester Tea Party Patriots on Jan. 29, the group will be hearing a “VERY controversial MN Senate Bullying Bill review” according to that group’s calendar. MNCPL will be at the meeting.

Mainstream and religious groups

In addition to Tea Party groups, MNCPL is also making the rounds at religious and mainstream events.

Last Thursday (Jan. 16), the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese-sponsored Argument Club for Women held a forum on the safe schools bill, though it wasn’t the kind of forum that argues the different sides.

The forum was described thusly: “Do the Proposed Anti-Bullying Laws Really Protect our Children? You need to be concerned about the impact these laws will have on our Religious Freedom and your Family.”

The event featured occasional Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten — known for her opposition to LGBT rights — and MNCPL’s Michelle Lentz. Also in attendance was Rep. Pam Myhra, a Republican from Burnsville.

That event was promoted in Catholic church bulletins.

MNCPL also hosted a booth at the Minnesota School Boards Association conference on Thursday (Jan. 16).

On Oct. 28, Anderson and Renee Doyle presented “Corrupting the Minds of Children with Sexualized Curriculum and Bullying” at Crossroads Evangelical Covenant Church in Forest Lake. They were speaking in front of the HERO homeschool group.

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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