Photo: John Steven Fernandez, Flickr

Minneapolis school board passes stringent anti–gay bullying, pro-LGBT curriculum

By Andy Birkey
Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

In a unanimous vote by outgoing board members Tuesday evening, the Minneapolis School Board passed a resolution that significantly beefs up its LGBT curriculum and anti-bullying efforts. The resolution directs the school district to enhance its tracking of anti-LGBT bullying incidents as well as include LGBT themes in school curriculum.

The resolution directs the district to include educational materials about the safety of LGBT students and to offer yearly trainings for all district staff from administrators to bus drivers. It will mean that sexual health curriculum will include LGBT issues and an elective course will be created that centers on LGBT history.

The resolution also provides for the funding of these programs with either outside fundraising or district funds, and requires that the costs and effectiveness of the new programs be tracked.

Carla Bates, board treasurer and the first LGBT person to be elected to the board, said that the anti-bully measure would not add to the budget. “I want to assure the taxpayers of Minneapolis that a lot of the safeguards in terms of reporting that were enumerated in this are already done. This would just add the LGBTQ category to that reporting,” she said. “It’s not like we are creating any new expensive structures. We already have those structures in place.”

She thanked school board member Chris Stewart, who worked for months researching and drafting the resolution. “I really appreciate director Stewart’s leadership in this. It’s not something that would have happened four years ago, and it’s something I’m definitely surprised about.”

That set a celebratory tone for the board as many members weighed in on how important the resolution is.

Board member Jill Davis said, “It’s a wonderful way to leave the board because this is a great resolution.”

Member Peggy Flanagan added, “What an incredible thing to be able vote on as our last vote as the current board to leave Minneapolis a more welcoming and inclusive place. I feel blessed that this is my last vote I get to take as a board member.”

Member T. Williams called it “a legacy type vote”: “It puts something in place that can and will have sign impact on the lives of the young people in our schools and their families.”

School superintendent Bernadeia Johnson praised staff member Jesse Tebben, who compiled much of the research for the resolution.  “Not all other districts are doing this work,” she added. “When we are out at the Pride Parade, when you talk to our youth, we hear how proud they are that they have a district that acknowledges them and cares about their safety.”

She said students from outside the district have told her, “Gosh, I wish my school board and superintendent would acknowledge us the way you are.”

Board member Stewart, who crafted the resolution said, “In four years on the board, all I really wanted to say was that I did something that mattered. I will be able to feel like I came here and I did something.”

The vote for the resolution was the last action by the outgoing board, and and was followed directly by the swearing in of newly elected members.

Two years ago, the school district came under heavy fire by religious conservatives over a Welcoming Schools curriculum developed by the Human Rights Campaign and implemented in two area schools.

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Katie B.
Comment posted January 13, 2011 @ 11:57 am

Good for Minneapolis School District. The religious right’s culture terrorism (you cannot make “war” on an innocent people, only commit acts of terrorism) against LGBT Americans must be fought and fought hard.

Shannon Drury
Comment posted January 13, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

I am a parent of two kids in the Mpls schools, and I recently brought some LGBT- and gender-based bullying to the school’s attention. I can’t tell you how helpful, supportive, and resourceful the school and the district were. This is a community that cares about ALL kids, and I’m proud to be a part of it!

Comment posted January 13, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

Dear Carla Bates,

As a taxpayer who lives in Minneapolis, I’m not concerned about whether this measure will add to the budget or not (it apparently doesn’t, according to you). I’m concerned that GLBT youth are provided a safe and nurturing environment for learning.

I can probably speak for many people in saying that I’m not just a taxpayer–paying taxes is only a small part of my overall view of myself as a participant in this community. I’m also a citizen concerned with human rights, a neighbor who values the well-being of others, a partaker of the arts, etc.

If preventing GLBT bullying will cost more money in the future, then so be it. The moment when we start making decisions about whether people are treated fairly and decently based solely on how much it costs, we declare ourselves to be morally bankrupt in my view.

Anyway, congrats on getting this resolution passed.


Comment posted January 13, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

@Eric–I think you’re missing the point here. It seems to me that conservatives probably used the “costs too much” tactic to argue against the resolution. She is shutting that argument down by pointing out that it has added no cost. I hardly think that she would argue we should never spend any extra money to prevent bullying. Weird response on your part IMO.

The Pinoy Connection - Yay, Minneapolis!
Pingback posted January 13, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

[...] a unanimous vote by the Minneapolis School Board on Tuesday evening, a resolution was passed that increases its LGBT curriculum and anti-bullying [...]

Yay, Minneapolis! |
Pingback posted January 13, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

[...] a unanimous vote by the Minneapolis School Board on Tuesday evening, a resolution was passed that increases its LGBT curriculum and anti-bullying [...]

Minneapolis School District To Teach Pro-LGBT Curriculum |
Pingback posted January 13, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

[...] a school staff member who organized the majority of the research that went into the decusion. Johnson said, “Not all other districts are doing this work. When we are out at the Pride Parade, when you talk [...]

Comment posted January 14, 2011 @ 10:25 am

Hello What?,

I assumed that was the case, which is why I was trying to buck up the resolve of those behind this. I think they needed a reminder that this is Minneapolis we’re talking about, not, let’s say, Michele Bachmann’s district, where the money argument would, alas, HAVE to be made, despite its insignificance relative to the vastly more important moral argument concerning the prevention of GLBT violence and bullying.

Here in the mini-apple, I’d like to think progressive values would come first, that they’d be an automatic, and that we could safely ignore the bigotry of the religious and social conservatives. Thus, I was surprised when the cost issue was raised.

Pingback posted January 14, 2011 @ 10:35 am

[...] According to The Minnesota Independent: [...]

Zera Lee
Comment posted January 15, 2011 @ 6:44 am

How sad that only lame ducks seem free to do the right thing in full these days.

Comment posted January 15, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

FINALLY. Something good happens. Efforts to reduce kids killing themselves finally happened. I was wondering why it was taking so long. Maybe because of the Paren’t Action League?
Bullying that could possibly lead to death should not be tolerated. This pro-LGBT is great.

Not deceived
Comment posted February 1, 2011 @ 11:39 am

So by encouraging students to abandon ordered sexuality and their supposed “teachers” telling them that homosexual activity is acceptable, you deny them the true meaning and purpose of their God-given call. Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered no matter how much you try to ignore it. Let’s not forget that ABUSE is the #1 predictor of a homosexual preferentce. Shame on this city and our country for allowing FALSE truths to overcome NATURAL LAW.

Comment posted February 1, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

@not deceived.

I feel pity for you. You need to do your research, its time that people are not ignorant and stop being sheep.

The medical world, the science world shows that being homosexual is a normal course of life, it has always been here is in about 1500 different species, and has no mental discourse at all.

Studies, and science have proven that being gay is not something that is caused abuse, but is a biological born trait.

studies have shown that gay parents make as good if not better parents than straight because of the abundance of adopted children that come into gay parents homes, and how they are tested, mentally, financially, and soundly on their parenting skills and household.

You are the one that needs to intrinsically look at yourself and call onto your God for forgiveness for your ignorance.

Comment posted October 13, 2011 @ 9:23 am

Homosexuality is a disorder, and should be treated as so.
If homosexuality was a normal healthy thing, humans would have evolved to reproduce Asexually.
A school should focus on education… Reading, writing, math, history,…. etc… not promoting extremist ideals and further our nation’s already huge problem of kids slipping into a life of immoral, disruptive, and non productive behavior.

Comment posted October 30, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

J, homosexuality has been documented in over 2,000 species. It is a normal, healthy, and natural thing. Get over it already.

If schools focused only on reading, writing, math and history we’d be producing citizens incapable of functioning in a global society that demands 21st century skills like critical thinking. Plus, leaving out sex ed would mean a heck of a lot more teen pregnancies and STD’s.

I’m not really sure why you characterize homosexuality as a symptom of “immoral, disruptive, and non productive behavior.” Morality is a code an individual arrives at. Everyone has a different moral code. Forcing everyone to follow just your moral code is not acceptable in a free society. And as for being disruptive and non-productive, I just had to laugh. Gay people go to their jobs just like straight people. They have hopes and dreams, just like we do. They have families, just like we do. They want to live in a world where they’re free to be themselves, just like we do. Stop worrying so much about what other people do or think. It’s not for you to control. Everyone deserves to have dignity, to be treated as an equal in our society. That is the central principle our nation was founded upon.

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