daytonsafeschoolssigning

The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act became law this month despite a 5-year misinformation campaign waged by conservative Christians and right-wing politicians at the expense of the LGBT community.

With the stroke of Gov. Mark Dayton’s pen on April 9, Minnesota’s anti-bullying statutes went from one of the nation’s weakest to one of the strongest as the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act became law. But the battle to get the bill passed exposed rampant anti-LGBT sentiment in Minnesota’s political set despite the state’s progressive atmosphere on LGBT rights.

After a two stinging defeats — the failure of an anti-gay marriage amendment in 2012 and the passage of marriage equality in 2013 — groups opposed to LGBT rights mounted a formidable campaign to smear the anti-bullying bill and, in the process, the LGBT community.

The LGBT community was smeared as diseased, compared to pedophiles, called “unhealthy,” and accused of trying to “indoctrinate” students and infiltrate schools.

Religious right organizations teamed up with the Tea Party, once known to eschew social issues in favor of fiscal conservatism, and conservative Republicans found a welcoming platform on Christian radio stations. Falsehoods started by fringe groups became mainstream among conservatives, and Republicans repeated those claims on the floor of the Minnesota House and Senate.

The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act replaces Minnesota’s 37-word statute on bullying by creating a definition of bullying, identifying 19 characteristics on which the majority of bullying incidents are based (including sexual orientation and gender identity), defining bullying, compelling school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies, providing for bullying prevention as opposed to punishment, and creating a School Safety Technical Assistance Center for school districts.

While 2014 was the major battle, the conflict had been simmering since 2009 when a similar bill was wending its way through the Minnesota Legislature. In 2009, the Minnesota Family Council laid the groundwork for the misleading attacks that would surface in 2014.

mfcThe Minnesota Family Council’s Chuck Darrell, in an interview with me in 2009 for the Minnesota Independent, said that adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the bill “will provide homosexual activists ‘leverage’ with school districts to institute curriculum which promotes acceptance of homosexual marriage and unhealthy sexual behavior.” He said, “We can stop bullying of all students without promoting homosexual marriage and unhealthy homosexual behavior.”

In its “action alert” in March 2009, the Family Council said, the anti-bullying bill would lead to “indoctrination and intimidation of students and school officials who object to homosexuality.”

At that time, the Minnesota Family Council was the only organization devoted to stopping the bill.

Despite the opposition, the bill made it to the Senate where Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, unsuccessfully tried to amend to the bill to say that “the teaching in education institutions of homosexuality or bisexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.”

To that, the bill’s author Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said, “This amendment sends a really negative message to gay kids. Here it is, a Senate chamber that’s going to put words like this into law?”

Though the bill passed the Minnesota Legislature in 2009, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty killed it with his veto pen.

The rhetoric from 2009 would continue into 2014, as new groups like the Parents Action League, Minnesota Child Protection League and PMA Forum continued to assert that the anti-bullying bill would usher in “homosexual indoctrination” and “unhealthy behavior.”

But activists on both sides would take a detour as an epidemic of bullying appeared in the state’s largest school district, Anoka-Hennepin.

The war in Anoka Hennepin

anokahennepinsigns400

News reports of students taking their own life after being bullied spurred students, teachers, and parents — including those that had lost children – to demand that the Anoka-Hennepin School District make changes. That group was called the The Gay Equity Team, and one of its main goals was the repeal of a discriminatory school policy. Dubbed the “neutrality policy” or “sexual orientation policy,” it was approved in 2009 and says that school staff “shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation,” which, in practice, had only applied to LGBT issues. It was a watered down version of a previous policy that said “homosexuality not be taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle and that the district staff and their resources not advocate the homosexual lifestyle.”

With LGBT allies working for change, conservative Christian pushed back.

“We have formed a group called the Parents Action League, and this was formed in response to a very aggressive group called the Gay Equity Team in our school district, which is trying to drive all of this gay agenda into the classroom,” said Barb Anderson in an interview with the Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality in 2010. “They want the homosexual indoctrination to take place in every classroom and every grade level and tell our kids that homosexuality is natural, normal and innate.”

Anderson was a volunteer researcher for the Minnesota Family Council, and serves as a board member for Janet Boynes Ministries, an “ex-lesbian” ministry.

PAL offered a petition that demanded that the district school board, administration and staff “work closely with pro-family and ex-homosexual and ex-transgender organizations,” including controversial ”ex-gay” groups, such as NARTH and Courage,

PAL also asked the school district to teach that LGBT people are unhealthy, specifically demanding that the district “provide the history of gay-related immune deficiency (GRID), AIDS, and the medical consequences of homosexual acts” and that “all health classes that address homosexuality be required to share up-to-date information from the CDC on sexually transmitted infections and HIV among the group the CDC designates as Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)”

The Rev. Margo Richardson addressed the school board at one of its more contentious meetings seeking to provide some context. “There are Christians who do not find it necessary to condemn gay people in order to be Christian. A lot of the things that have been shared with you here are not based on facts. A small group’s ability to spread lies about gay students, gay parents, gay teachers and gay people in the community is disturbing.”

With the lack of action by the school board — many of its members were aligned with the conservative Christians in the district — six students filed suit against the district alleging widespread harassment. The Department of Justice got involved, and the district relented. For 5 years, the district would be subject to a consent decree and oversight by the DOJ. Conservative Christians at the Parents Action League had lost the war, one that Barb Anderson had been waging for nearly two decades.

The ensuing fracas led Gov. Mark Dayton to create the Governors Task Force on the Prevention of Bullying. That task force generated principles on which the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act is based.

The 2009 battle over anti-bullying bill set the stage with misinformation by the Minnesota Family Council, and the outcome of the war in Anoka-Hennepin enraged conservative Christian activists looking for a new battle.

The claims made by the two groups would continue to reverberate around conservative Christian churches and Tea Party groups, and become more outrageous and bizarre as new groups formed to fight the effort to create safer schools.

The first attempt at safer schools
The bill that was introduced in 2013 and passed in 2014 was very different than past versions of the bill, yet the religious right used the exact same arguments as those used in 2009: homosexual indoctrination and “obscene” curriculum. The common thread between the bills was the inclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

The opposition began in earnest in March 2013 when the bill worked its way through committee. Barb Anderson of the Parents Action League testified against the bill. Her group had lost an important battle in the bullying culture war the year before in the Anoka Hennepin School District.

Before a Senate committee, Anderson claimed the bill was “emotional manipulation.”

“Homosexual endorsement programs have already been introduced in Minnesota schools in elementary grades and anti-bullying programs such as Welcoming Schools where children as young as 5 are subjected to mental and emotional manipulation through pro-gay classroom activities that confuse children and set up conflict in innocent minds over family, gender roles and parental authority,” she said.

Anderson then intimated that certain books might be part of the bill. “Through a wide range of pro-homosexual picture books and puppets the family is redefined and children are indoctrinated to approve of homosexuality and transgenderism even before they are old enough to know what sexuality is or the implications of homosexual behavior.”

Anderson was followed by Tom Prichard, the head of the Minnesota Family Council, a longtime veteran of opposing anti-bullying laws, and Katherine Kersten a columnist with the Star Tribune, who had written a half-dozen columns excoriating safe schools efforts.

With a victory in the House for safe schools advocates, Republicans were successful in derailing the bill in the Senate by threatening a filibuster.

The DFL vowed to bring the bill up the next session, and over the summer, Anderson, members of the former EdWatch, and Republican lawmakers gathered to create a new group to oppose the bill. The Minnesota Child Protection League was born.

Stopping the bill under the guise of protecting children

Barb Anderson

“Children are following the pied piper of perversion,” Anderson told a crowd of Tea Partiers at the Chanhassen Rec Center in late-2013. She was introduced by Rep. Cindy Pugh, a pink-clad legislator and Tea Party leader. “Tonight, I want you to be informed and learn why you need to be involved in what’s going on because this may be coming to your school very soon if this bill passes,” Anderson said.

MNCPL was founded in August 2013 by Barb Anderson and members of Education Liberty Watch, a group that once helped launch Rep. Michele Bachmann’s career. Republican legislators such as Rep. Cindy Pugh, and Sen. Roger Chamberlain were among the legislators working with this new group. MNCPL toured the state at churches and Tea Party meetings, giving a presentation that is factually suspect and contained false stereotypes about LGBT people. At these meetings, they rubbed elbows with Republican officials and candidates.

Anderson brought with her much of the same misinformation about LGBT people that she brought to the Anoka-Hennepin School District through Parents Action League. At a late-2013 meeting of the Southwest Metro Tea Party, Anderson gave her spiel after being introduced by Rep. Cindy Pugh, a Republicans representing the western suburbs of Minneapolis.

“In our society where children are being sexualized, homosexuality normalized, and the list of genders has grown from two to LGBTQQIA and that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and counting, HF826 contains language that will usher in another sexual revolution, sexual anarchy, unrestricted sexuality to love whoever you want — polyamory — and its going to force its acceptance on all of us. You see a heavy hand is coming down from the federal government, Health and Human Services, under the guise of bullying prevention.”

Anderson’s hour-long presentation hit many of the notes common to anti-LGBT presentations: criticisms of Alfred Kinsey as a pedophile, that the LGBT community supports pedophilia, and that LGBT rights legislation is akin to “child exploitation.”

Then she targeted Gay-Straight Alliances, which serve as social support for LGBT students in many school districts.

“[The GSAs] connect kids with a gay drop-in center called District 202 down in Minneapolis. It’s just a name, not a school district. Here boys, young boys, are paired up with adult homosexuals to be their mentors. Any red flags here? This is endangering the lives of vulnerable children. These could be children in your neighborhood your schools.”

Anderson seemed unaware that District 202 closed 5 years ago and was merged with The Family Partnership’s GLBT-Kids: Abuse Intervention Program.

Anderson then warned that pornography would be part of any anti-bullying curriculum. The group was convinced that the book, “It’s Perfectly Normal,” would be distributed to every school district in the state if the anti-bullying bill became law. “It’s Perfectly Normal” is a sexual health education book available in some Minnesota schools. It’s been hailed by literary critics and educators but demonized by the religious right because of its frank and accurate take on human sexuality. The book served as the basis for much of MNCPL’s opposition to the anti-bullying bill.

The group even photocopied pages from the book and distributed them to legislators making the claim that the safe schools bill would mandate the book be taught.

Despite the fact that the safe schools bill never mentions sexuality education, and the Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of Bullying report makes one reference to sexuality, MNCPL argued that a specific book not related to bullying prevention will be shown to all kids in public schools because of the safe schools bill.

“That’s just patently false. Far-fetched. I don’t even know where they get this stuff,” the bill author, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, told WCCO in March.

“It has to be based on evidence…research that has proven, positive effects. There is nothing like that in the research that supports a claim like that. So I don’t know where this is coming from,” said Dibble.

MNCPL put up at least one billboard targeting a rural DFL senator, and the group created a misleading packet that it sent to legislators. And it undertook a major campaign to court Tea Party groups.

Tea Parties against safe schools
By the early months of 2014, MNCPL had solidified a good working relationship with Tea Party groups around the state.

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.

The group did more than a dozen presentations at Tea Party groups around the state. In addition to Reps. Scott and Pugh, state Sen. Michele Benson, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (who is also running for governor), Phil Krinkie and Tom Emmer, both of whom are running for Michele Bachmann’s old seat, and former state Sen. Ted Lillie have all been at these meetings.

walterhudson

One Tea Party leader, Walter Hudson, took up the mantle of opposing the safe schools bill and toured the state’s Tea Party groups. Hudson was once listed editor of the Sons of Liberty Media on his biography (Sons of Liberty is headed by Bradlee Dean, a controversial and anti-LGBT heavy metal preacher. In fact, Hudson once defended Dean in an article he wrote titled, The Immolation of Bradlee Dean.)

He’s a past coordinator for the North Star Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Patriots of the Twin Cities, sits on the board of Minnesota Majority, and is a member of the Republican Party of Wright County.

At a meeting of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots in late-January, Hudson railed against the bill.

“The folks who are pushing this primarily are the same folks who pushed for the change in statutes last session that enabled us to have gay marriage in this state.”

He said, “The objective here is to single out particular protected classes and give them a leg up in the social discourse by actually making it against policy and punishable through formative discipline to change a child into something else to believe something that is politically incorrect.”

He said the bill was “unfunded, unfair and unsafe” a direct quote from the Minnesota Child Protection League, a group of anti-LGBT activists formed to defeat the bill.
“This is going to create a climate of terror,” he said.

Rep. Gruenhagen’s “Sodomy, Health, Money, and HF-826”

gruenhagen

While MNCPL was touring Tea Party groups, a group founded by a Republican lawmaker was touring Minnesota churches with a presentation that can only be characterized as bizarre.

The Pro-Marriage Amendment Forum was created in 2011 by Republican Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, and “ex-gay” activist Kevin Peterson, to advance a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. But that amendment failed in 2012, and marriage for same-sex couples became legal in 2013. PMA Forum was forced to switch gears. The group created a presentation opposing the safe schools bill called “Sodomy, Health, Money, and HF-826.”

The video claimed that there’s an enzyme in sperm that causes AIDS, that gay men die at an average age of 41, that HIV is transmitted casually, and that the United Nations is responsible for making sodomy legal, all claims not supported by sound public health research, science and history.

The video was first discovered by Bluestem Prairie who reported that a Republican candidate for the State House had been distributing it among activists. In fact, it appears that at least one activist aired the program on public access television in the Twin Cities area.

In the video, the unnamed narrator claimed that the United Nations was responsible for the overturning of sodomy laws in the United States.

“In Lawrence vs Texas, the court used international law to interpret the U.S. Constitution discovering a new constitutional right to engage in homosexual conduct. Lawrence was not the first time the court had used international law to interpret our constitution so it is the United Nations that is intent on stealing our nation’s sovereignty and overturning our state laws from you.”

The narrator then took the viewer on an in-depth and fact-challenged lesson on the human reproductive cycle and then made the claim that AIDS is caused by an enzyme in sperm entering the digestive system.

“When sperm enters the digestive system, it is quickly absorbed into the blood. It is the enzyme in the sperm that causes the immune system to fail. AIDS stand for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.“

He continued, “Sodomy is a voluntary act to destroy the immune system that protects us from disease, various cancers and other health issues.”

Contrary to the claims in the video, HIV universally recognized by the medical community as causing AIDS.

The video continued for 30 minutes, painting gay men as unhealthy and diseased, and stating that if the safe schools bill became law, kids would die of AIDS.

Hate Radio Minnesota

Paul-Ridgeway“We are not homophobic but we are not going to allow our children to be molded in a gay plan to mold our children to agree with evil and folks, this is what this bill does,” radio host Paul Ridgeway told his listeners on AM 980 KKMS, a Christian station broadcasting from Richfield, just south of Minneapolis.

AM 980 KKMS’ drive-time talk program, Ridgeway had become a focal point for misinformation about the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act and Minnesota’s LGBT community. Over a two week period leading up to key votes on the bill, the program hosted two representatives from Minnesota Child Protection League, Mimi Anderson and Michele Lentz. Also appearing on the program was Republican state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, columnist Katherine Kersten, and preachers Pat Hall and Dale Witherington.

The program became obsessed with “literature” that most of the guests said would appear in schools if the anti-bullying legislation was passed.

“I’ve seen the approved literature and the approved literature has teachings for this which are not age appropriate but it says 10 years old on up and they are showing masturbation,” Pastor Dan Hall told listeners. “To me what in the world is that sort of — how could they, the State of Minnesota, put a stamp on that. These values are values and educational pieces that should take place in the home and in the church and privately but certainly not publicly in our public schools. My church and the parishioners around the cities are saying they are attacking us. They are taking away our children they’re exposing them to things that could be — will be — in fact detrimental and we can’t do anything about it. We feel powerless.”

Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, talked about the conservative Christian organizing that brought about the MNCPL. We first started working against this and trying to organize back in the summer, you know, we got a group together and one of our goals was to approach this with Christian love and try to persuade people, let people know how bad this bill is and what’s really behind it.”

He added that it wasn’t about the bill’s cost but “culture.”

“This 20 page bill is one of the worst pieces of legislation in K-12 the last 4 years. It’s not just the cost. It’s culture,” said Chamberlain.

Conservative columnist Katherine Kersten also appeared on KKMS. “You see these legally designated 19 protected classes with the LGBT and the gender identity and expression added. What this really is about is opening the way to so called anti-bias training in our K12 schools. That’s where this agenda would be imposed on kids and not just on kids but on all parent volunteers. You would have to be part of this training regimen which would clearly have a quote diversity focus with an LGBT kind of flavor to it. So its really about getting into the classroom.”

Two representatives from MNCPL appeared on the program to give the same spiel the group was making at Tea Party events.

While interviewing the Rev. Dale Witherington, host Ridgeway said, “This bill is a really a doctrinal issue to indoctrinate K-12 in the homosexual lifestyle by showing them graphics that kids shouldn’t see their age, secretly telling them the parents won’t know anything. I tell you folks I am deeply troubled.”

Withington agreed: “It’s opening the doors not just to the propagation of a gay lifestyle, if that’s where certain people are, but it opens the door to all kinds of other sexually promiscuous types of material. In fact, the primary textbook — it’s even being used a lot either as a primary source or a secondary source right now in our school districts — is a book that a warden in the State of Washington would not allow in his prison because its too obscene for prisoners and it’s targeted toward our ten years olds to 4th graders.”

Withington had his own theories on the bill, cribbed from conspiracy theories floated by controversial conservative figurehead Glenn Beck.

45-point plan to a godless America

witherington

At a talk in late-January, Witherington claimed that the safe schools bill was part of a 45-point plan to turn America into a godless nation. He was speaking at Living Word Christian Center, a church that once endorsed Rep. Michele Bachmann, had a relationship with heavy metal preacher Bradlee Dean, and still endorsed “ex-gay” therapy.

Witherington said: “I have been studying not just this bill, but I have put in countless hours since last May because of the three bills that passed last session. And this particular bill that we’re about to deal with and the study that we’ve done through all kinds of sources — My opinion — I’m going to give you my opinion about something here before I go into the bill — I can trace those three bills that passed. Now those three bills were the same-sex marriage bill, the were they attempt to privatize or to unionize private child day care and the tax bill those three and this bill which is called HF826 those four bills I can tie directly to 18 out of 45 stated goals from particular intentional groups of people in this country whose desire is to turn us into a godless society. so while this bill by itself on its own merits is significant, its tied to the rest of an intentional agenda to me is almost even greater.”

Witherington doesn’t mention it, but he was reading from the Naked Communist — only he had substituted the word ‘godless’ for each mention of the word ‘Communist.’ The Naked Communist was a book by a right-wing Mormon and disgraced former police officer in Salt Lake City who fancied himself an expert in Communism. His book has largely faded from history with the demise of the Cold War. But, in the late-2000s, it saw a revival with Tea Party groups, gun advocates, and religious right organizations after Glenn Beck began to plug the book any chance he got. Beck’s take was that the 45-goals mirror what he views is happening to America.

Later in the talk, he recalled a conversation with his adult son about the safe schools bill. “He said, ‘Dad if this is really true, if what you are telling me is true, pedophiles are going to start applying for the same civil rights status in America just as the gay and lesbian and bi and trans community has done.’” Witherington told the audience. “And of course, the very next day, I got the email that in Colorado a group of pedophiles have applied for civil right status.

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature
By the time the bill had passed the Minnesota Senate, and was to be debated on the House floor, the misinformation campaign had been firmly embedded in the minds of elected officials.

The DFL maintained they had the votes to pass the bill, and Republicans conceded as much. But they wouldn’t give up so fast. They launched a 12-hour debate in which many members of the House repeated the false, misleading, and discriminatory information that groups like MNCPL, PMA Forum, KKMS and the Minnesota Family Council had been promoting.

maryfranson

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, called the bill “fascism Minnesota style” saying that it “is a way of organizing school children in which a school district is ruled by special interest groups such as the LGBT groups and the Minnesota Democrats in which school children and parents are not allowed to disagree with the special interests such as LGBT groups and the Minnesota Democrats.

She said in regard to controversies surrounding Chick-Fil-A, Mozilla, and other boycott’s, “The LGBT lobby went crazy.”

“Well parents, it is my opinion that if your children do not conform to the society’s beliefs and the LGBT community that your child may not be able to participate in after school activities they may end up being benched, unable to play sports possibly not get into college because of the belief that your children and you hold as a family. House File 826 is simply another attack on the bible, and conservative Christians.

She added, HF 826 is a bill to indoctrinate our children so they may experience real life with however it is that Minnesota Democrats think it will be and how the LGBT community wants it to be.”

Rep. Mike Beard, complained that the LGBT community is “engaging in massive amount of bullying themselves” with boycott’s targeting Duck Dynasty, Target, and Mozilla.

Rep. Mike Benson, R-, lamented the “bullying of people in America over issues of gay rights.”

“This bill is a whole lot more about a social agenda than it is about preventing bullying” he said adding that it would have a “chilling effect on religious freedom and speech in the schools”

Rep. Gruenhagen, whose group has made startling claims about HIV and the LGBT community, made the claim that “obscene materials” would be introduced to the classroom by LGBT groups. “We see that in there they define sexual orientation including gender identity and a host of other issues. well, people organizations like OutFront Minnesota, GLSEN will be bringing the curriculum into the public school.”

He mentioned that he thought “It’s Perfectly Normal,” the book targeted by MNCPL, would be used for bullying prevention.

“We have two departments … embracing this SIECUS developmentally appropriate instruction on human sexuality and that is a direct pipeline for implementing this type of perverted curriculum which if you showed it to a child who is 10 years old outside of the public school grounds you could be charged with obscenity crimes.”

He said the bill needed to be changed to have “strong preventions for your children, my children, and our grandchildren at an elementary age being taught this filthy perverted information.”

“There’s all types of verification that the skids are greased to put this type of perverted material into our public schools and down into the elementary level.”

pugh

Rep. Cindy Pugh, R-Chanhassen, had attended some of the MNCPL meetings. In fact, she introduced Barb Anderson at a Tea Party meeting in late 2013. She gave a lengthy speech on the House floor decrying “curriculum.”

She said that she’d met a woman named Judith Reisman. “I have not been able to stop thinking about what I heard Judith say since i met her and it was well over 6 months ago. I spoke with Judith and Judith has read the bill, and she spoke to the threat that this poses to our children and our families, to parents.”

Reisman is a religious right activist who poses as an expert on pornography and sexuality. She’s made a name for herself by claiming that LGBT people recruit: “The homosexual population may right now be one to two percent, hold your breath, people, because the recruitment is loud; it is clear; it is everywhere. You’ll be seeing, I would say, 20 percent or more, probably 30 percent, or even more than that, of the young population will be moving into homosexual activity.”

She’s compared the LGBT community and Gay-Straight Alliances to Hitler: “Idealistic ‘gay youth’ groups are being formed and staffed in classrooms nationwide by recruiters too similar to those who formed the original ‘Hitler youth.'” And that gay Boy Scouts members “will greedily entrap any and all boys who seem easy prey.”

She claims that the LGBT community is secretly trying to have sex with minors. “The reality people don’t want to deal with but the propaganda has been loud and strong to deny the fact that the aim of homosexual males and now increasingly homosexual females, is not to have sex with other old guys and get married but to obtain sex with as many boys as possible. That’s the reality. I wish it weren’t.”

That’s the same Judith Reisman that Barb Anderson of the Minnesota Child Protection League referred to in that group’s presentation to Tea Party groups.

And it’s the one that Pugh as her expert on the bullying bill.

“She knows about the book that many of my colleagues have highlighted “It’s Perfectly Normal” and she knows of the threat that texts like this pose to our children, and warned of similar texts that will likely be coming in curriculum in Minnesota if this bill passes. You can maybe hear from my voice that I’m shaking now this is so disturbing to me.

Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, made similar claims, which she may have learned about at a North Metro Tea Party meeting where MNCPL gave its presentation. She introduced the group.

Scott attempted to “connect the dots.” She claimed that one organization that had been used in the footnotes of the Governors Anti-bullying Task Force advocated for some suspect books: “Some of the books on this list include Queer 13, Growing Up Gay, Growing Up Lesbian, Love and Sex, 10 Stories of Truth. And what the excerpts from these books revealed is that book after book after book contains stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between preschoolers, stories of public masturbation and sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, 5 years olds playing sex games and the list goes on and on. that above all the books seem to have less to do with promoting tolerance than with an unabashed attempt to indoctrinate students into a hypersexual worldview.”

Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater, said, “Our darling little children might be seeing some of this because there is an emphasis on sexual education through this proposal.” She told members of the House that they should google Ted Bundy, suggesting that under the bullying bill, students would be exposed to pornography and might even become serial killers.

“He was from a strong Christian family and he introduced to this early in life and it led to an addiction where he reports that he needed more and more hardcore and violent pornography as time went on. He needed to act out on this. We need to be so careful about this bill that we’re passing and this potential for the curriculum that are being recommended.”

It’s not over
Rep. Gruenhagen is still fighting the fight in the pages of local papers. He recently penned a letter that read: “In his final comments on the House floor, the bill’s author, Rep. Davnie, thanked the homosexual activist group Outfront Minnesota and the LGBT community for entrusting him to carry this bill. There is every reason for citizens to be concerned that this bill will mandate, in accordance with the task force and the bill, sexually explicit curriculum that is inappropriate for elementary children and a violation of family values.”

For its part, MNCPL is very proud of the work it did on opposing anti-bullying legislation. “We did everything we could to try to educate and worked with other organizations to get the word out and very quickly built a movement that got the people of Minnesota pretty outraged about what was coming in the name of bullying prevention,” MNCPL’s Michele Lentz told AM 1100 The Flag in Fargo. Despite defeat, Lentz is still claiming that the new law will usher ‘obscene’ curriculum into the schools.

She said it’s a law “that will expose their children to this kind of curriculum and these kinds of policies because this stuff is not safe for kids and in the name of anti-bullying prevention. The kinds of curriculum that kids will be exposed to we believe is harmful to them. They will be exposed to curriculum in every subject K through 12 and I don’t know how to protect your kids from that.”

She said that her group “will be doing everything that we can educate the public about who took these votes in favor” of the anti-bullying bill and “start holding legislators accountable for votes they take that that betray children such as this vote for the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act.”

The Column is a community-supported non-profit news, arts, and media organization. We depend on community support to continue the work of solid LGBT-centric journalism. If you like this article, consider visiting Give MN to make a contribution today.
SHARE
Previous articlePreventing homosexuality in children? “Ex-gay” group plans educational event
Next articleMayor Hodges to officiate wedding that could topple South Dakota gay marriage ban
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.

LEAVE A REPLY