Update on Recommendation 3 – Annoka-Hennepin School District

On Monday, 2/23, the Anoka-Hennepin School Board met to discuss the Recommendation #3 (R3) of the Anti-Bullying directives from their Anti-Bullying Task Force. While all five recommendations of the directives deal with promotion of the kindness and anti-harassing behavior among district students, the recommendation #3 takes its stand specifically on LGBT community. Here it is:

Recommendation 3: Honor and celebrate the contributions of diverse people and families in our community, country, and world, including the LGBT community. In an effort to affirm and celebrate the diversity represented by district students, families, and employees, the Task Force recommends Anoka-Hennepin Schools recognize, affirm, and assess specific LGBT activities including, but not limited to, continuing to support student-led Gay Straight Alliance clubs; hosting school-related family nights for our diverse populations, including LGBT families and LGBT students and their parents; and creating public displays honoring LGBT history month each October beginning in 2014.

Discussion started with the Task Force presenting on R3. The following were the members of the Task Force: Dr. Gustafson, superintendent for middle schools, Jennifer Cherry, Kathy Kiddle, parent, and Beth Hentges, parent. They reported that since implementation of Anti-bullying legislature, students feel much safer at schools. They also addressed “celebration of LGBT contribution.” Creating GSA – gay straight alliance is a big part of it. The GSAs are the student lead clubs that will include students of both sides, where they, reportedly, will support each other and accept without judgment. Several slides illustrated LGBT display boards for the month of October, which Jennifer Cherry described as “colorful and dynamic.” This boards depicted rainbow flags and students with happy faces. The task board concluded its presentation by sharing the “stakeholders perception” about the recommendation, stating that parents, community and employees demonstrated “positive responses” towards the recommendation. Well, while employees don’t have much choice to have an opinion, the audience had a great chance of hearing the real perception of the community. So here it begins.

The first person testifying was Mr. LeMoyne Corgard, president of the Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota, a local teacher union. Mr. Corgard  representing 2,850 voices(!) teaching more than 40,000 students, urged the board to support recommendation. He pointed out that this recommendation was created as the result of 2012 Federal law suit settlement, brought by 6 students, who, reportedly, were bullied and harassed, because they belong to LGBNQ group. Mr. Corgard thought that now is the time to empower our students, so they all feel accepted. My question to him would only be: how many of those 2,850 voices will actually share his take on it.

Next speaker was also supporting the recommendation, and even suggested the board “to go even further and to consider the original four goals, drafted last year.”  For the information, the original four goals proposed that the burden of celebration of LGBT group should be on district, and not on students. “It is not the students that should educate the public,” she stated, “but it’s fundamental duty of school to educate students to thrive, to live, to work, and to learn.”

The 3rd speaker spoke against this policy: “I have no doubt that every student is unique and need to be appreciated. But it is not His (God’s) will that we turn our focus to sexual behavior. We need to work with bullying and harassment, but not on affirming what not all agree upon.”

4th speaker pointed out that the usage of words honor, celebrate and affirm in the recommendation is the problem. “To honor- requires respect,” he stated; “To celebrate – means sharing a joy, and to affirm – requires agreement. These are the strong demands, what would be the expectations for compliance?”

5th speaker addressed GSA (gay straight alliance) specifically: she felt that these should not be sanctioned by school district. She reminded the board and the public that these very alliances have been actively promoted by GLSEN (gay, lesbian & straight education network), whose goal is to teach LGBN students to be successful lobbyist and to recruit other students. She mentioned the popular gay questionnaire with 41 questions, which gives twelve sex choices students might identify themselves with. All of that is done without parental knowledge.

6ht speaker felt that banning the recommendation due to religious offense is unconstitutional, and many lawsuits will be coming.

7th speaker noted that R3 is irrelevant to students’ achievement. “Their (LGBT’s) contributions should be noted, but their sexual orientation is irrelevant and shouldn’t mentioned.” Perhaps you should ask yourself (she approached the board members): “does your professional or career accomplishments has to do with your sexual orientation?” “Most people honor and celebrate other people based on their character, achievements, etc…not on their sexual behavior.”

Speaker #8 asked the board not to act  on R3. The problem – its definition. Why can’t we simply recognize LGBT? and why other groups aren’t mentioned? LGBT is just a single strand of a fabric; there are many more other groups to respect and to protect. The policy, he felt, “is more exclusive, than inclusive.”

9th speaker was also against it. “Every student has a right to not being bullied, but why is it all about LGBT? They brought up 90% of the time. All these displays are cute,” he added, “but will Christians be able to put on displays of Christmas, Easter, Jesus on a cross? and what about Jews and all others?” (Good point, Sir).

Speaker 10: “Honoring and celebrating should not be passed,” because “not all families structures should be honored. There are different structures of families: families with spouse in prison, drug addicted, families with two moms and two dads, polygamous, divorced, or living with multiple partners. According to the research, all of these are not the best arrangements for children.” Therefore, school district board should not celebrate all families as equally beneficial.

Speaker 11 was concerned with setting aside the whole month to honor LGBT! “There are not enough school months to celebrate other groups. What about school virgins, green-eyed, left-handed, handicapped, and many other groups that are also special and need to be protected? Everyone who contributed to the society should be praised, but not for their sexual behavior.”

Presenter #12 urged the board to vote “yes” on the R3 to avoid casting aside the LGBT as a 2nd class.

Next person (#13) felt that R3 is a confusion. “It exclusively supports LGBT, the group representing 2-3% of the population, while Christians come close to 15%, and they cannot even say the word “Christmas.” Recommendation three is falsely disguised. We can accept LGBT, but we don’t have to celebrate them.”

Speaker 14: “R3 promotes special status for one group. What if every other group will come to you (the board) and request the same protection/status, will the school accommodate all groups equally? Will it even have enough resources (time, space, staff…)? It is not possible. R3 simply says: Some people are more equal than others. Please remove this recommendation; it’s unnecessary.”

Speaker 15. “When I was young, I was bullied,” (and the gentleman provided few terrible examples from his school years). “I was bullied not because I was gay, but because I was small and had bad teeth.” The speaker then brought up few other examples of bullying mostly based on students’ physical appearance (acne, weight, clothes, etc). “We were all bullied because we were different, and R3 doesn’t protect that. It simply says: “you don’t belong to the favorable class.” R3 falls short on its primary goal – stopping bullying. It promotes LGBT lifestyle. We don’t need to promote politically-correct policies.”

Speaker 16 urges “to not approve R3, as it goes too far. We could settle on “tolerance,” but not “honoring.” R3 fails to acknowledge morals and Christian values that ARE the large part of our community.”

Speaker 17: “The recommendation interferes with morality. “As Catholics, we are taught that some things aren’t moral. Promoting LGBT offends morality of all Catholics and Christians. Take out the “LGBT” group, and put “all students.” School isn’t place for expressing sex.” 

Speaker 18 – Julie Blaha, a math and science teacher at Jackson Middle School. She expressed that as a teacher, she knows how important it is to keep welcoming environment in the classroom for students’ better achievement (somehow praising LGBT in classroom creates better learning environment). She felt that the R3 is a good start. (Parents, if Mrs. Blaha teaches your son or daughter, ask her how homosexuality enriches science curriculum).

Speaker 19 called board to respectfully oppose the R3. “School board’s job is not to be involved with celebrating sex. As a taxpayer, I want the school district to focus on math, grammar, and academics, not on students sex lives, especially when it’s so controversial.”

Speaker 20: “R3 includes the minority, but excludes the majority. We are what we celebrate; we are becoming what we are celebrating. Please vote no.”

Speaker 21 was short in his speech, but stated that he “affirms the last speaker very much.”

So, this is the moment, where it gets really interesting. In the beginning, the Task Force members have stated that they noted a positive feedback from the public regarding the recommendation. Then we heard 21 people testifying…only 5 of them (less than 25%) thought it’s worth trying. On Monday, the 9th, board will vote. Will they even consider what members of Anoka-Hennepin School district think? Or will they follow their old pattern: urgently find a few pro-LGBT speakers for their Monday meeting and give them opportunity to express their “public opinion” for the record and then vote? That could possibly happen. Therefore, I urge you, dear parents, to keep their mail boxes full the entire week. Please keep calling and sending e-mails urging them to NOT pass the recommendation 3. Ever if you are not in the district, it is still in your best interest to act, as the same policy could be coming your way soon.

Here is contact information:

Tom Heidemann, School Board Chair, District 1, 763-506-4795

Marci Anderson, School Board Vice Chair, District II, 763-506-4150

Bill Harvey, Treasurer, District 3, 763-506-7743

William Fields, Director, District 4, 763-506-5847

Jeff Simon, Clerk, District 6, 763-506-7742

Emails should be sent to Sue Seul, Administrative Assistant at or 763-506-1002

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