HRC Blog

Anoka-Hennepin Marks First Day of Silence

SchoolThe following post comes from Rohmteen Mokhtari, HRC’s Family Project Assistant:

On Friday, students in all 50 states and 70 countries participated in the Day of Silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. Yet the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that this year’s Day of Silence was particularly noteworthy for the teachers of Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district who could, for the first time, take a stand against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment without fear losing their jobs.

As you may recall, in February the district repealed a long-standing policy that forced teachers to remain “neutral” on LGBT issues as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

At Anoka High School eight teachers and counselors wore “Day of Silence” t-shirts. "Kids were really excited that staff members were able to wear them and be able to show their support in such a visible way," one teacher told the Star Tribune.

Educators and administrators can address anti-LGBT bullying and harassment or they can act as silent bystanders. Unfortunately, “neutrality” is far too often used as a euphemism for the latter approach. In order to create safe learning environments for all students, teachers must have the tools they need to address anti-LGBT name-calling and bullying and they need to know that they will be supported by their school and their district in that effort. We routinely hear from teachers who want to do the right thing but worry that doing so would be in violation of a state law, district policy or the expressed will of an administrator.

No teacher should ever have to choose between supporting their students and keeping their job.

HRC’s Welcoming Schools program provides educators, administrators and parents with the tools they need to address bias-based name-calling and bullying, diverse families and gender stereotyping at the elementary level in an age-appropriate way.

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