I wrote a post titled I will stab anyone who says “Boys will always be boys” in October 2010 at the height of teen (and preteen) suicides. With the nation coming together in the movement It Gets Better, I felt relieved.
“People get it now.” I thought. “They are reaching out to our young people. People are taking bullying at school seriously.” I told myself. “There is hope that things will change.”
What the fuck was I thinking?
Almost a year from when the movement It Gets Better was first started in September 2010, Mother Jones this week brought to our attention that NINE teenagers have committed suicide in ONE school district in the past two years. (Never mind your first reaction: Why weren’t these cases reported by the news outlet? Now that we have the celeb-endorsed It Gets Better, teen suicides are no longer news-worthy or something?!) That district, Anoka-Hennepin school district, is the largest in the state of Minnesota with 40,000 students. The situation is so alarming that the area where the school district is located has been identified as a “suicide contagion”, according to the school district website, “because of higher than normal numbers of suicides and suicide attempts.”
Nobody can really pin point precisely why these young people decided to take their own lives. Most of them were either self-identified as gay or were thought and taunted as gay. Wouldn’t you know that the Anoka-Hennepin school district apparently has one of the most homophobic official school policies?
Anoka-Hennepin has a policy on the books known colloquially as “no homo promo,” which dates in back to the mid-1990s. Back then, after several emotional school board meetings, the district essentially wiped gay people out of the school health curriculum. There could be no discussion of homosexuality, even with regard to HIV and AIDS, and the school board adopted a formal policy that stated school employees could not teach that homosexuality was a “normal, valid lifestyle.”
Later the policy was changed to require school staff to remain neutral on issues of homosexuality if they should come up in class, a change that critics said fostered confusion among teachers and contributed to their inability to address bullying and harassment, or to even ask reasonable questions about some of the issues the kids were struggling with, like sexual orientation. Source: Mother Jones
After so many young people have lost to us, people started paying attention and asking questions. The Anoka-Hennepin school district is currently under Federal investigation. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have also filed a law suit against the district. (SPLC explains why they are suing Anoka-Hennepin here)
The Anoka-Hennepin school district has been the subject of an investigation since the fall of 2010, after several students and community members came forward to report both verbal and physical bullying and harassment . During the ten month investigation, SPLC heard from students and teachers about concerns regarding the “neutrality” policy and implications of a gag policy in the classroom.
According to Sam Wolfe, lead attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, students have reported being called vicious anti-gay slurs and subjected to being physically assaulted pushed into school lockers and trash cans due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. One student even was reportedly attacked by a pencil and stabbed in the back of the neck. Source: WashingtonBlade
Maybe it is pure coincidence, but Anoka-Hennepin school district happens to be in Minnesota’s 6th congressional district whose representative is none other than Michele Bachmann.
Michele Bachmann who just recently signed a Christian right conservative family value yada yada group’s pledge which also stated that children born into slavery were somehow better off than children born into modern African American families.
Michele Bachmann who has from the beginning of her political career opposed any education and policy promoting tolerances towards the LGBT communities, who sees a “homosexual agenda” where gay youth would lure and indoctrinate the otherwise non-gay youth into a life of sin.
Michele Bachmann who is the favorite of the Tea Party, and is leading the one woman (+ one ambiguously “pray the gay away” gay therapist husband) charge against gay marriages in defense of marriages, vowing to ban gay marriages (AND pornography, because you know, straight people do NOT watch porn. Ever). “Marriage is something worth fighting for!” she yelled. Cough cough. Michele, on this point, I think we all agree with you: Why do you think the gay community fights so hard for their right to marry?!
(I am waiting for her to say something in support of Hitler and deny Holocaust. Just you wait. It’s like she is playing a “Really? Really?! Are you fucking kidding me?!” Bingo game…)
According to a blog post on The Dump Michele Bachmann Blog from 2006 (way before she became a household name), “Most of the time Bachmann avoids committee hearings like the plague. However, she did deign to attend a hearing about a bill to address bullying in schools.” At this hearing in 2006 (which has been unearthed and discussed in these past few days), Bachmann questioned a proposed “zero tolerance” anti-bullying bill:
”For all us, our experience in public schools is there have always been bullies, always have been, always will be. I just don’t know how we’re ever going to get to point of zero tolerance and what does it mean? … What will be our definition of bullying? Will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression? Will it mean that what form of behavior will there be – will we be expecting boys to be girls?” – Michele Bachmann, 2006
She went on and on to say that there are differences between boys and girls, that children are like barbarians and we as parents are trying to civilize them, yada yada yada. Why? So we as parents simply expect boys to be barbarians? To bully each other? To pick on the weak who cannot defend themselves? Lord of the Flies?
I have been seeing red ever since I read this line of hers this afternoon. I am so upset that I cannot really talk about it intelligently. I have said all that I wanted to say wrt. this subject in October 2010 I will stab anyone who says “Boys will always be boys”. I did not expect the day when I need to repeat myself, and it seems more urgent than ever because Bachmann is running for President and I honestly do not want to live in a country ruled by her and her narrow-minded friend. Heck, I don’t even want to live in a country where such an outcome is POSSIBLE.
I need to go stab a pillow or something.
Oh, one more thing.
Can we bring Sarah Palin back please?