Anti-LGBTQ groups are encouraging their supporters to show up at a meeting of the Minnesota Department of Education’s School Safety and Technical Assistance Center on Wednesday, July 19. Proponents of safety for transgender students will are also urging people to attend.
The Minnesota Department of Education’s School Safety and Technical Assistance Center unveiled a draft toolkit for schools at a May 2 meeting and since then, the Minnesota Family Council, the Minnesota Child Protection League, and the Center for the American Experiment have been rallying against it. The draft toolkit — which is slated for final approval by the Center on Wednesday afternoon — can be viewed here.
That toolkit provides recommendations to public and charter schools about how to create a safe and inclusive school environments for transgender students.
The Minnesota Family Council, in a series of email alerts, is asking its supporters to attend the meeting, to wear red shirts, and to create signs opposing the toolkit.
“This irresponsible, provocative and unhelpful piece of propaganda was developed in secret by an anonymous “workgroup”. It took many weeks of digging to discover who was part of the group tasked with providing guidance to Minnesota school districts,” the Family Council wrote in a June 27 email. “A quick survey of their backgrounds makes it evident that they are radical LGBT activists.”
The Minnesota Family Council has a long history of anti-LGBTQ activism dating back to the early 1980s when MFC started as the Berean League, a group of conservative Christians that banded together to advocate for laws that criminalize lesbian, gay, and bisexual Minnesotans. In recent years, the group has come under criticism for publishing information about LGBTQ people that is untruthful including claims that “homosexuals” are more likely to be pedophiles, and are more likely to engage in sex with animals. These statements are not only false, but have been historically used to perpetuate violence against LGBTQ people.
The Minnesota Child Protection League, an organization founded in 2014 and whose main activities have been opposing supportive school policies for LGBTQ students, is also rallying its conservative Christian base.
“The MN Department of Education (MDE) is run by people who are a danger to our children and an offense to parents, taxpayers, and the public,” the group said in a July 13 email. “There is no polite way to say it. The gender ideology ‘guidance’ coming out of the MDE does not promote the safety and well-being of children. The gender ‘guidance’ they promote is actually harmful to ALL children.”
Even the National Organization for Marriage has tried to insert itself into the debate.
The Minnesota-based conservative think tank Center for the American Experiment has also been criticizing the toolkit. Longtime foe of LGBTQ people, CAE fellow Katherine Kersten penned a recent article in the conservative Weekly Standard:
“In Minnesota, as elsewhere around the United States, state education officials are fueling the explosion,” she wrote. “Here, the Department of Education is pushing a “transgender toolkit” and urging K-12 schools to adopt the policies it recommends, insinuating that schools that don’t could face legal problems.”
Despite protestation from Kersten and anti-LGBTQ groups, the Minnesota Department of Education is on record stating that the toolkit is merely a tool that school districts can choose to use and there aren’t legal consequences from MDE if a school chooses not to read or implement suggestions in the toolkit.
“The toolkit does not serve as guidance, direction, statute or rule; it is intended to provide additional information for districts to consider as they make their own locally-determined policies,” Josh Collins, Director of Communications at the Minnesota Department of Education told The Column in May.
While anti-LGBTQ groups are rallying their bases, supporters of LGBTQ students are also planning to attend the meeting of the MDE center.
“We need your assistance in supporting the Minnesota Department of Education’s vote on the publication and distribution of the Transgender Tool Kit for MN schools!” OutFront Minnesota wrote in an email on July 5. “This kit is a guidance booklet of best practices to ensure school safety, support, and respect for transgender and gender diverse youth in MN public schools.”
OutFront and Transforming Families have set up at event for people who support LGBTQ student safety to attend the MDE meeting.
The meeting will be held at the Minnesota Department of Education (1500 Highway 36 W, Roseville, Minnesota 55113) on Wednesday, July 19 from 3 to 5pm.
Here are documents used in this report:
Email from the Minnesota Family Council
Email from the Minnesota Child Protection League:
Email from OutFront Minnesota: