Anoka-Hennepin repeal of “no promo homo” policy creates national waves

by February 16, 2012

The conservative Christian Parents Action League continued its efforts to demean the LGBT community in one last gasp on Monday night as the Anoka Hennepin School Board passed a policy that repealed one that discriminated against LGBT students and replaced it with one that does a bit better. The district is earning near universal praise from around the country for its decision.

The Associated Press took a deeper look at how two years of heated debate about the safety of LGBT students at Anoka-Hennepin has impacted the national debate.

[Superintendent Dennis] Carlson said he agrees the long debate — plus the stronger anti-bullying policy — probably has made more of a difference already than the new policy will. But he knows his northern Twin Cities suburban district will be watched closely for how the changes work in practice.

“It’s not a local issue. It’s a national issue, it’s an issue in any public school in America,” Carlson said. “At the end of the day we need to have our gay kids safer in public schools. Apparently we’re going to play a leadership role in that. And I’m fine with that. Our gay kids deserve not only a respectful learning environment, they deserve to be safe and feel safe in our schools.”

Canada’s Xtra News, a national gay and lesbian publication, wrote:

In another turn of good news, the Anoka-Hennepin school board in Minnesota (which we wrote about yesterday for its infamous “No Homo Promo” policy, which has been blamed for an unusually high incidence of bullying and teen suicide), finally replaced that policy at a board meeting. The new policy calls for teachers to encourage respectful dialogue and exchange of ideas on controversial topics while affirming the dignity and self-worth of all students, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Good. Let’s allow this school board to put this ugly chapter behind it and move forward to creating a positive learning environment for all students.

The Star Tribune dinged the Parents Action League a bit in its praise of the board’s decision:

Board members showed courage in doing the right thing, especially since the community remains deeply divided about the issue. In a series of hearings, they often heard from parents and others who supported the neutrality policy.

Before Monday’s vote, about a dozen parents and others reiterated that position. They worry that conservative students will be censored or shamed and that the new policy would allow “homosexual activists” to push their agendas.

Fortunately, the 12 people who testified on the other side of the issue prevailed.

HRC’s Backstory wrote:

After more than 17 years of upholding policies designed to stigmatize LGBT students, Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district has taken an important step in promoting a safer, more inclusive learning environment for all its students.

The Educated Reporter notes:

“In the wake of a Rolling Stone story that depicted its campus communities as terrifying places to be a gay student, the school board of Minnesota’s largest school district has overturned a policy that required teachers to remain neutral during classroom discussions related to sexual orientation.”

[Which is not quite accurate; the new policy had already been written and the votes secured on the board before Rolling Stone wrote what was an excellent article.]

Judy Molland at Care2 notes that the PAL may sue:

“Parents Action League May Sue: Apparently the Parents Action League is waiting for the district to respond before deciding whether to sue. So the story may not be over yet but, meanwhile, thank you to the Anoka-Hennepin School Board for making this decision.”

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