When elected officials in ultraconservative states such as Minnesota and Tennessee pass archaic legislation that prohibits teachers and students from talking about gay issues they are opening the door to verbal bashing, ostracization, and even physical assaults - not to mention the inevitable suicides that some youngsters feel is the only way to deal with this ceaseless torment. Regressive school districts believe - mistakenly, it goes without saying - that by refusing to talk about something it will simply disappear. Their message to LGBT youth is crystal clear: We'd appreciate it if you would all vanish from the face of earth. Unless you conform to the norm, you have no place in our "family values" society.
Stepping up to the plate (since somebody has to), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) are demanding that Minnesota's largest school district immediately address the out-of-control bullying and harassment aimed at LGBT students. They're telling these public schools to rectify the untenable situation or face legal consequences. From SPLC: In a letter to Anoka-Hennepin School Superintendent Dennis L. Carlson, the groups said they were prepared to file a federal lawsuit to uphold the constitutional rights of LGBT students unless the district took "prompt and meaningful action to remedy the current hostile environment." The letter includes a demand that the district repeal a gag policy that prevents teachers from discussing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. "The gag policy serves no legitimate education-related purpose," wrote SPLC attorney Samuel Wolfe and NCLR attorney Shannon Minter. "Rather, as made abundantly clear in the District's own guidance about the policy, the gag policy singles out a vulnerable and disfavored minority – LGBT students – and prevents teachers and other district employees from supporting, or even protecting, those students within the classroom. The mandatory silence imposed by the policy leaves teachers without tools to handle LGBT bullying, and creates an atmosphere in which LGBT students are isolated and feel unprotected."
The letter also states that by singling out LGBT students, the gag policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. "The policy imposes a stigma on LGBT students as pariahs, not fit to be mentioned within the school community, a message that comes across loud and clear both to LGBT students and their peers, and which has grave repercussions for the psychological and emotional development of LGBT students." Wolfe added, "The gag policy is anything but neutral. It is rooted in homophobia and sustains a hostile environment harmful to all students. The district must repeal this dangerous policy." An ongoing investigation by the SPLC and NCLR has found that a pervasive atmosphere of hostility in Anoka-Hennepin schools has had dire consequences for LGBT students. Since November 2009, at least four LGBT students in the district have died by suicide Many others have been pushed out of school or experienced emotional and psychological trauma as a result of constant bullying.
Did you ever notice that when a cat hides a sizable portion of its body inside a cardboard box, or in the cushions on a sofa, the cat thinks that it's suddenly invisible? This is similar to the logic of school districts run by homophobes.