Anoka-Hennepin school district's gay-bullying problem profiled in Rolling Stone

Rolling Stones Anoka Hennepin.jpg
Rolling Stone
The title "School of Hate" isn't doing anything for the Anoka-Hennepin image.
In its current issue, Rolling Stone magazine becomes the latest big-name national media outlet to come down hard on the gay-bullying problem in the Anoka-Hennepin school district.

In "School of Hate: One Town's War on Gay Teens" reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely writes about the plight of gay students in Michele Bachmann's home district, joining past scrutinizing reports from Mother Jones and The New York Times.

"The Anoka-Hennepin school district finds itself in the spotlight not only for the sheer number of suicides but because it is accused of having contributed to the death toll by cultivating an extreme anti-gay climate," Erdely writes.

The piece follows the struggles of 13-year-old district student Brittany Geldert, and features interviews with the controversy's well-known cast of locals: Tammy Aaberg, who lost her son Justin to suicide; Michele Johnson and her daughter Sam, who committed suicide in 2009; Jefferson Fietek, a district teacher who just announced a run for state senate on the anti-marriage amendment ticket; Barb Anderson, the most public face of the conservative Christian parent contingent; and Denny Carlson, the beleaguered district superintendent.

The piece also delves into the "no homo promo" or "neutrality policy," which is the basis for the still-unresolved lawsuit against the district by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It also touches on the current efforts to replace it with the Respectful Learning Environment policy.

Read the whole piece here.

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37 comments
TeaBea
TeaBea

"The piece also delves into the 'no homo promo' or 'neutrality policy,' which is the basis for the still-unresolved lawsuit against the district by the Southern Poverty Law Center."

That's inaccurate. The policy referred to as "no homo promo" was booted in favor of the "neutrality" policy after an incident in which the district had to settle with a former student (a straight one, I might note) suing them over two teachers who'd made a practice of gay-bashing him. They're currently being taken to court over the "neutrality" policy on the grounds that it fosters an environment that lets anti-LGBT bullying go unaddressed because it basically forbids discussion of the fact that LGBT kids exist in the first place. 

Alextwiss99
Alextwiss99

there are suicides about gay everywhere, you shouldn't put it all on one town

Ries_kelly
Ries_kelly

I go to a high school in this district (Andover High School if you care) and ive only heard of these promlems. Im best friends with a girl who is a lesbian, our school has a gay straight alliance and we've actually been classified as one of the nations top 100 high schools. Bullying really hasnt been a big problem at our school as far as i could tell. As sad as it is to hear about these trajedies going on within our district, keep in mind its not the entire district thats going through this.

Mesears12
Mesears12

These so called people give Christianity a bad name they are right in there with the Talibon. In the name of their so called God they live in hate and bigotry. My God LOVES all especially these poor kids. My heart breaks for them. You will have to meet your maker and I'm sure you'll be ashamed of yourselves then, this is not what Jesus taught!

MRW
MRW

After reading the article, one aspect that bothered me was how so many instances of the bullying was done by jocks, and in one instance was described as a "popular jock".  What that particular jock did was not just bullying, it was sexual assault.  Yet no punishment was meted out.  Nothing.  Guess when you have schools run by jocks--as so many of them are--this type of inaction should hardly be surprising.

Oakleys
Oakleys

YXJYXQHAPPY I like it very much!

Boatsfra
Boatsfra

Most here don't read the story. Homosexuality is prevalent here in society. Mr. Anderson is a closet homosexual. I saw her with another woman the other night.

Boatsfra
Boatsfra

Mr. Anderson...she looks like a guy...is a pig. UnAmerican at it's core.  Rot in hell.

WSH
WSH

This is just another example on how no God, no control, and no morals in the public school system, ends up destroying itself and then everyone goes "whats wrong? I don't get it." This does not surprise me at all. Matter a fact I was born and raised in Anoka County. I went to Eisenhower Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School and Blaine High School. In the end if staff or anyone else in the school should stop bullying you cant do that and not address the issues with homosexuality also. That's the sad state I see all to often is so many people are against bullying and other things of that nature but will be completely for abortion or something idiotic. You can throw stones at one sin because you don't agree with it and then turn a blind eye to another because you don't see a problem with it despite how perverse it is.

Jabba ON Wheels
Jabba ON Wheels

Bullying affects everyone weather your gay or not, AH is more anti disabled than anything, having gone to school in the AH school district and being disabled myself.  There aren't any policies to protect disabled students.  There were many incidences where the district turned their heads from disabled bullying.  I myself was strong enough to stand up to bullies myself and stick up for the other disabled students in school.  When the supposed "safe Zone" came into being, no where on the signs or in the brochure's where disabled students even mentioned as being protected it was Black's, Asians, Mexicans, Women and Gay's.  How is that fair, the disabled populace is a smaller minority then any of the former groups.  Especially the so called "Diversity Group" being made up of minorities and women, but can't have any white males in the group or any disabled members is just a joke.  I do agree if gay students want to talk about their sexuality then straight students should be  able to speak about their sexuality. The minorities that have the least protection is the Disabled minority, Gay's, Blacks, Mexicans all have more protection then the disabled.  No one talks about that because it's not trendy.  There's no hate crime category for crimes against the disabled but there is one for Gay's and Blacks as well as Hispanics.  Think about that one.  There's still the stigma that if your disabled your stupid.  Which is so far from the truth.  I am Conservative and proud of it, and before you go calling me a homo phobe or racist and a bigot, I have many gay friends, many black friends, how many Gay friends do you have.  I still dont agree with that lifestyle, but that wont keep me from being friends with someone. 

Lklsad
Lklsad

Sammy, eres un pendejo

Sam I am.
Sam I am.

There is a difference between school administrators allowing students to bully each other (regardless if they are gay or straight or black or white or green, yellow, or purple) and the promotion of the homosexual agenda. Both should not be tolerated.

If gay students wish to openly discuss their issues in the classroom, they should be allowed to.  I have no problem with that.  Straight students have had that same right since the beginning of time.  The teachers should be accommodating and allow them to speak what is on their mind.  But it is NOT the teacher's responsibility to instill their own opinion on the subject, other than informing the students that any name-calling or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.  This is what the "neutrality policy" is all about.  And I think that is fair.  Those who promote the homosexual agenda are not satisfied by this.  They insist that the teachers should tell students that if, for whatever reason, they are against the homosexual lifestyle, they should have absolutely no say on the topic and just keep their mouths shut.  That is not fair.  If sexuality is discussed in the classroom, EVERYONE should have their say.  If not, then sexuality should not be discussed at all in the classroom (and there opens yet another Pandora's Box).

Bullying, is a completely different topic altogether.  If ANY student, is subject to harassment of ANY kind, there should be dire consequences for that.  For both the bully as well as the school officials who allow it.  In these cases within the AH School district, I HIGHLY doubt any teacher or school admin IN THIS DAY AND AGE, would allow such harassment.  In many of these case, I suspect that the bullying took place off of school property.  And if so, why should the school board be held responsible for this.  Take a look at the number of young people (both gay and straight) who have killed themselves over Facebook bullying.  Should the schools be held accountable over what happens on Facebook?  Or at the Mall?  Or at the Bus stop?  Um...no.

And finally, with City Pages exceptional record of fair and balanced reporting, this article was written by someone from The Rolling Stones magazine who stated, ""The Anoka-Hennepin school district finds itself in the spotlight not only for the sheer number of suicides but because it is accused of having contributed to the death toll by cultivating an extreme anti-gay climate".  Really?  So this writer has proof that the AH school district "cultivates an extreme ant-gay climate"?  Has this writer even even been to Minnesota, not to mention the AH school district area?  

But as always....if the City Pages reports it....it HAS to be true.

Tnkr101
Tnkr101

a shistory (not a good def) yes, Anoka itself has always been through-out its own history of believing its own...any more said?

Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

You should note that it's a "reprint" of the article they ran exactly one year ago today.

And Kirk, fuck you, and I mean that more sincerely than anything else I've ever posted here. You didn't read that article because if you did, you would have to live under a rock to think your comment is appropriate. (Should have guessed you went to school up there -- your evangelical roots are showing.)

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

"gay-bullying problem"?Is the"gay-bullying problem" persistent?When was the last time a gay-bully incident was reported At Anoka-Hennepin?Been quite some time hasn't it?So, wouldn't it be a previous problem?Perhaps we should make a law today which protects iron ore miners from poor working conditions.

This group wants "something special" right.A "special" protection that ALL OTHER groups WILL NOT receive.And here we were thought; "all we want is to be viewed as equals".Well, so much for that lie...

39
39

So WSH, what are "the issues with homosexuality" that need to be addressed along with bullying? The problem lies with THE bully, not the one being bullied. It's pretty simple really, treat others with respect.

How would having God back in the public school system end the problem of bullying? And what the hell does abortion have to do with this issue?

Finally, the problem isn't really how write, it's what you wrote.

Tehpwnage
Tehpwnage

Wow, impressive brain fart. Learn how to construct a paragraph.

Jabba ON Wheels
Jabba ON Wheels

Sorry, got a little carried away on that.  The thing is bullying affect everyone, Gay, Straight, White, Black, Asain, Hispanic, Indian, Disabled, Fat, Skinny, Tall, Short, everyone.

Thorne
Thorne

What is this "Homosexual Agenda" of which you speak? I have a lot of gay and lesbian and bi-sexual friends, I have gay and lesbian family members so I'm about as "indoctrinated" as one can be and yet, I am still a heterosexual. Stop trying to hide your bigotry. We can see you.

39
39

Homosexual agenda? What is this, 1955? And you suspect that the that many of these cases the bullying took place off school grounds? Come on, it's may have been over 20 years since I was in high school but those that were bullied were bullied on and off school property. I also remember that school officials mostly turned a blind eye when it came to bullying. Lastly, one doesn't have to spend much time in Michelle Bachmann's district before you get that feeling you are in some crazy Twilight Zone episode.

Peggy Olson
Peggy Olson

Please, do tell, what is the homosexual agenda? Be descriptive. I want details.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

 Go back to your white supremicist website loser.  No one wants to hear your bigoted stupidity. 

Jefferson
Jefferson

Actually Mark the Rolling Stone piece is new and not a "reprint."  The author has been working on this piece for several months.  

HW
HW

So you're saying... all students deserve equally to be bullied and have school authorities who witness this say nothing because according to some memo, bullied students don't exist? Or are you saying...no students deserve to be bullied at all, because all have an equal right to not be bullied?No. I feel like you are saying something like, some people deserve to be bullied, and punishing bullies is giving these people special treatment. In that case, you, sir, are a bag of dicks.

Boatsfra
Boatsfra

You girlfriend are truly UnAmerican. Must be a closet homosexual. Come out like the rest of us. Pig.

Just sayin'
Just sayin'

#1. You need to take a look at the United States Department of Labor: Mine Safety and Health Administration. www.msha.gov Poor working conditions might have been a previous problem but that is why there are regulations in place now.#2. There are many groups that want to be viewed as equals but still receive special rights and protection against things like discrimination and harassment. The United States Department of Justice and the Equal Rights Act are great references. www.justice.gov#3. Most people want to be "viewed as equals" because they are NOT currently being viewed or treated as such. The protection/rights/laws are created to make sure that said groups are treated equally.#4. The last time a gay-bully incident was reported at Anoka-Hennepin, I believe, was in 2011. Last year, in my opinion, is not quite some time ago. 

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

Such a bigot.  You are the perfect example of what is wrong with the Republican Party today.  You see dead children and all you can give is more hate.   You have no soul.  You have no heart.   You are a bad person.   Attitudes like yours are what leads to kids getting bullied to death.   Why don't you go join up with Westboro scumbag.

WSH
WSH

     Oh I'm sorry that my paragraph building or writing skills were not up to par with your exotic and expansive vernacular library. I hope that my spelling and punctuation meets your delicate and stringent criteria. But I suppose after saying everything that I did to make my points, it shouldn't surprise me that your little head could only wrap around my lack of paragraph structure. Maybe if I took my writing abilities as serious as you do in the online media, I could one day be at the caliber which you represent so gracefully.

     Thank you so very much for your input and all your glorious words of wisdom.

Sam I am.
Sam I am.

Well, Michelle, I honestly hope that you are a lesbian.  And I support your right to get married to another woman.  Because the last thing we need in this country is someone like you who breeds more Liberals.  And if you are straight, I have a needle and some yarn to sew up that hole of yours so that you can NEVER procreate!!

Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

Odd, that. There was note about it being a reprint from 2011 at the end of the article but now I see that 2011 has been changed to 2012.

I guess the article seemed familiar because of the heavy local coverage, made even heavier by the whiny insistance of some that there are "two" sides to this horribly one-sided story.

big dave
big dave

First off no one said ANYTHING about dead children.... whats wrong with kids now days is they are so sheltered and spoiled they dont know what to do when they come face to face with a conflict. EVERYTHING now days is run of fear. 

Sam I am.
Sam I am.

And you are such a socialist.  You would rather see hard-working Americans who strive for wealth, and once they attain it, being placed into a meat grinder feet first because they accomplished something that you are obviously incapable of.  Michelle.....why are you ranting here anyway?  Isn't there a street somewhere in Minneapolis that you need to "Occupy"?

wc
wc

Are you 10?

Tehpwnage
Tehpwnage

Kirk has often mocked the deceased that this article was written about. He's a terrible human being with nothing to live for.

Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

One thing to take note of in this debate is that the pro-school district commenters  rarely use their real names. I appreciate that many anonymous commenters need to be anonymous (it's easier to post under your own name when you're male, 6 foot, 275 lbs, and have no children or pets, like myself), but it is amazing how those angered by children who come out of the closet insist on commenting from behind a cowardly anonymous handle. Surely they're not afraid of some 15-year-old sissy boy, are they?

No, what they're afraid of is that their coworkers will look at them like they just crawled out from under a rock. What's going on in Anoka-Hennepin is a national disgrace, but true to form those responsible are quick to anonymously blame the victims of their twisted ideological fatwahs. These creeps hounded nine children into taking their own lives, and true to form are now blaming the dead for letting themselves be victimized.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

 Hey stupid fuck kirk has made fun of dead children many times on this blog.  He has made fun of the dead children the story is about.   This is something that needs to be posted everytime kirk posts his bigoted hate filled nonsense.   kirk doesn't care about the dead children, just like you don't.   Why don't you call up the parents of the dead teens and explain your theories about how they need to toughen up.   I'm just curious if you have ever made an effort to talk to a  bullied gay teen or listened to one of the million stories of bullied gay teens?   I think what they are experiencing is a little different than what you are thinking about but what do you care?  You are just a stupid bully who reads an article about dead children and says kids are so sheltered and spoiled these days.  I just wonder how you'd feel if your kid was bullied to death.  I'm sure you'd tell their mother that they needed to toughen up huh you fucking idiot? 

Boatsfra
Boatsfra

Typical closet homosexual. I saw you and another man kissing.

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