HRC Blog

MN School Board Removes District’s Anti-Gay “Gag Policy”

School HallwayThe following post comes from HRC Digital Media Intern Eric Cameron:

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.

On Monday night, the school board voted to eliminate the district’s notorious Sexual Orientation Curriculum “neutrality” policy, which explicitly banned homosexuality from being “taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle.”

The policy was replaced with a new Respectful Learning Environment policy, which emphasizes the board’s commitment to “providing an education that respects all students and all families.”

Located primarily in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s congressional district, Anoka-Hennepin made the policy change a week after Rolling Stone blasted the district for promoting an extreme anti-gay climate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, alongside the National Center for Lesbian Rights, has been engaged in a law suit against the Minnesota district since July 2011, challenging their “gag policy” and suing the district for failing to protect students from harassment and discrimination. The SPLC offered the following statement after yesterday’s decision: 

“Although we would have preferred for the District to have repealed this stigmatizing policy without replacing it, we are pleased that the new policy expressly requires district staff to affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students, including LGBT students. The repeal of this policy is an important first step, but the District must do much more to create a safe, welcoming, and respectful learning environment for all students, including LGBT and gender non-conforming students, and those perceived as such.”

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