Michele Bachmann responds to Anoka-Hennepin suicides without addressing gay-bullying

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With her presidential campaign on the skids, Bachmann tries to put out some fires back home.
It took a while, but Michele Bachmann has finally addressed the anti-gay bullying and suicides in her district.

Uh, sort of.

In response to a petition delivered to her St. Cloud office three weeks ago, the congresswoman sent an email to 6th district constituents who signed it. In it, she acknowledged that bullying and suicides are a problem.

But the letter makes a pretty glaring omission.

Justin Aaberg was15 years old when he committed suicide in 2010. He was one of nine Anoka-Hennepin district students who've committed suicide in the last two years. Justin's mom Tammy and another student's parent have said publicly that their kids were bullied for being gay before their deaths.

The district has been under harsh scrutiny for its treatment of LGBT students ever since. The Southern Poverty Law Center is currently suing the administrators alleging the district's "Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy" creates a hostile environment for gay kids. The policy says teachers must say "neutral" on issues of sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann has been totally silent on the issue, letting slip only that gay suicides in her district are "not a federal issue."

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Tammy Aaberg and local high school students delivering the petition to Bachmann's offices.
Three weeks ago, Tammy Aaberg and a handful of local high school students visited her St. Cloud campaign office to deliver a petition asking that Bachmann address the suicides and anti-gay bullying. The petition gathered over 140,000 signatures, and said in part:
No student should feel threatened or unsafe at school, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Rep. Michele Bachmann has an obligation to the constituents she represents to speak out, and do everything she can to stop this dangerous trend of teen suicides in her district.

After several weeks of radio silence, Bachmann finally sent her response yesterday. In it, she barely acknowledges LGBT issues or bullying specific to a student's sexual orientation.

Here's the whole response:

October 3, 2011

Dear _____,

Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns about anti-gay bullying and harassment via the CREDO Action petition. As your Representative for the 6th district of Minnesota, your views are very important to me and I appreciate hearing from you.

Unquestionably, bullying is wrong. I agree that no student should feel belittled or threatened by peers at school. All human lives have undeniable value, and I urge parents, teachers, and students alike to champion this fact in our community and to address instances of bullying promptly and firmly when they occur.

As one of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Anoka-Hennepin School District, I am very aware and concerned about the cases of bullying and suicides that have occurred there. In response, my office has been in communication with both school officials and with individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide.

We all desire to see bullying brought to an end and the best interests of students served in our schools. Again, thank you for your commitment on this matter. I assure you I will continue to be a listening ear for any constituent wishing to express his or her view on this or any other issue.

Sincerely,

Michele Bachmann
Member of Congress

Tammy Aaberg has several problems with the message, first and foremost being that she says she never received it. Aaberg does not live in Bachmann's district, but one of the students who accompanied her to the St. Cloud meeting -- an Anoka-Hennepin grad -- also says he received nothing.

"I guess I'm happy that her office said something about it," she says. "But I think she needs to do more of a comment, personally, on a national level."

Justin Anderson, the former student who lives in the district, says that the letter essentially skips over the specific role anti-gay sentiment plays in the issue.

"She completely ignored our concerns," he says. "We're talking about a very specific problem that falls on LGBTQ youth."

Neither has completely given up hope of a more comprehensive response in the future, however, they are understandably skeptical.

(H/T: Dump Bachmann.)

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6 comments
Soapysuds52
Soapysuds52

You know who really gets bullied? People who choose a celibate lifestyle regardless of what their sexual orientation is. Guaranteed young adults get more crap for not having a partner, waiting to have sex or choosing not to drink than those who choose to participate in the "fun."  While adults tend to praise kids who are "well-behaved" and "responsible" their peers shame them or isolate them. Does anyone stand up for those teens? No. I should know, because I was one of them and there were many a time I considered suicide because people didn't want to hang out with me or invite me places cause they knew I didn't want to drink with them or make out... you adults know so little about the real bullying that takes place behind school doors and you'll always fail to fully understand it.

Jonny
Jonny

Piss off Soapy, there are 4 dead kids here from LGBTQ targeted bullying, yet you write a paragraph about celibate kids being bullied? Congratulations on being part of the problem. Why don't you reply to this message with something equally irrelevant and moronic while the rest of us actually try and engage with the issue that's right in front of us.

Erica Fernstrom
Erica Fernstrom

Usually I try to be civil in my comments, no matter how angry I get. But honestly, fuck you Michele Bachmann. I have nothing but hate for you. Hate is a strong word. I know this, and I use it wholeheartedly. No matter how many times countless individuals have tried to bring this issue up to you, you avoid it and sweep it under the rug. This tells me two things: Number one, you are ashamed of your own views and don't have the guts to say what you have to say, whether you are right or wrong, and that is pathetic and shameful for any candidate, no matter his/her affiliation. Number two: The fact that you continually refuse to clearly and concisely state your position on the issue of LGBTQ bullying causes me to infer that you are in fact glad, or at least apathetic to the fact that NINE young people withing two years from the same damn school have committed suicide because they identified as LGBTQ. What kind of Christian (or human being for that matter) can you claim to be when you so blatantly ignore the issue at hand and can't say the least thing to these families or to the effect of "it's a shame that these young people gave up their lives because they were bullied for who they are"? If they were straight, this would be a whole different ballgame. But you think it's just fine to fucking waltz around the big gay elephant in the room and recognize that these bullies pummeled some queer students to the ends of their ropes. Because you are so vehemently homophobic, to you they are better off dead. It rids the world of a few promising young sinners, right? It's not like they had a future or deserved to live or anything. They were just a bunch of kids headed down the "wrong" path. Maybe your little therapy clinic could have saved them. Or maybe you could just say a kind fucking word and acknowledge that this happened and that anti-gay bullying was to blame and it is flat out wrong. My god, you absolutely sicken me.

reagan84
reagan84

hey...jack-ass.... do you hold Gov. Dayton to the same standard for not talking about this?  how about our 2 senators?... do you have the same HATE for them?.... you are the lowest of the low... just because somebody doesn't agree with you, they must be evil, or full of hate... look in the mirror once... look at the hate you have for people that may have a different opinion than you... is it your hate is justified?..... I just love liberals... if you disagree.. you are either..homophobic, xenophobic, racist, sexist, it couldn't be that maybe, just maybe that others have valid opinions that may disagree with you, but are also  just as valid?....

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

If there is one person to be uncivil towards I would say its these Republicans and Conservative "Christians".    They are the worst kind of scum.   How many more children have to die before they reexamine their bigoted beliefs?  America needs people to get mad and get rid of these scumbags via elections. 

reagan84
reagan84

you mean like abortion?.... love your deep thoughts...

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