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moby
Feb 4th, 2012, 10:56 PM
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/one-towns-war-on-gay-teens-20120202

I encourage reading the full article if the subject matter catches your attention, in the wake of all the discussion about Margaret Court and her anti-gay stance.

But here's a summary: Article is about a suicide epidemic in a school district in MN (land of Bachmann) which has a No Homo Promo policy. Half of the 9 kids who committed suicide in a spate of two years were bullied because they were gay and/or perceived as being gay. The No Homo Promo policy basically states that administrators and teachers have to maintain "neutrality" on issues of homosexuality - one of the key players in getting this policy established was a woman Barb Anderson who argued that "any form of gay tolerance in school is actually an insidious means of promoting homosexuality – that openly discussing the matter would encourage kids to try it, turning straight kids gay." This led to many teachers being unwilling to punish LGBT tormenters for fear of getting into trouble; their responses ranged from prescribing a "grin and bear it" approach to simply ignoring the bullying. There was also evangelical Christian influence in it all.

Here is a quote from the article, about one Justin Aaberg who eventually became the 7th suicide case in the district:
In April, Justin came home from school and found his mother at the top of the stairs, tending to the saltwater fish tank. "Mom," he said tentatively, "a kid told me at school today I'm gonna go to hell because I'm gay."

"That's not true. God loves everybody," his mom replied. "That kid needs to go home and read his Bible."

Justin shrugged and smiled, then retreated to his room. It had been a hard day: the annual "Day of Truth" had been held at school, an evangelical event then-sponsored by the anti-gay ministry Exodus International, whose mission is to usher gays back to wholeness and "victory in Christ" by converting them to heterosexuality. Day of Truth has been a font of controversy that has bounced in and out of the courts; its legality was affirmed last March, when a federal appeals court ruled that two Naperville, Illinois, high school students' Day of Truth T-shirts reading BE HAPPY, NOT GAY were protected by their First Amendment rights. (However, the event, now sponsored by Focus on the Family, has been renamed "Day of Dialogue.") Local churches had been touting the program, and students had obediently shown up at Anoka High School wearing day of truth T-shirts, preaching in the halls about the sin of homosexuality. Justin wanted to brush them off, but was troubled by their proselytizing. Secretly, he had begun to worry that maybe he was an abomination, like the Bible said.

And then:

Justin Aaberg's suicide, Anoka-Hennepin's seventh, had sent the district into damage-control mode. "Everything changed after Justin," remembers teacher Fietek. "The rage at his funeral, students were storming up to me saying, 'Why the hell did the school let this happen? They let it happen to Sam and they let it happen to Justin!'" Individual teachers quietly began taking small risks, overstepping the bounds of neutrality to offer solace to gay students in crisis. "My job is just a job; these children are losing their lives," says Fietek. "The story I hear repeatedly is 'Nobody else is like me, nobody else is going through what I'm going through.' That's the lie they've been fed, but they're buying into it based on the fear we have about open and honest conversations about sexual orientation."

LGBT students were stunned to be told for the first time about the existence of the neutrality policy that had been responsible for their teachers' behavior. But no one was more outraged to hear of it than Tammy Aaberg. Six weeks after her son's death, Aaberg became the first to publicly confront the Anoka-Hennepin school board about the link between the policy, anti-gay bullying and suicide. She demanded the policy be revoked. "What about my parental rights to have my gay son go to school and learn without being bullied?" Aaberg asked, weeping, as the board stared back impassively from behind a raised dais.

Anti-gay backlash was instant. Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard blogged that Justin's suicide could only be blamed upon one thing: his gayness. "Youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk [of suicide], because they've embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle," Prichard wrote. Anoka-Hennepin conservatives formally organized into the Parents Action League, declaring opposition to the "radical homosexual" agenda in schools. Its stated goals, advertised on its website, included promoting Day of Truth, providing resources for students "seeking to leave the homosexual lifestyle," supporting the neutrality policy and targeting "pro-gay activist teachers who fail to abide by district policies."

Asked on a radio program whether the anti-gay agenda of her ilk bore any responsibility for the bullying and suicides, Barb Anderson, co-author of the original "No Homo Promo," held fast to her principles, blaming pro-gay groups for the tragedies. She explained that such "child corruption" agencies allow "quote-unquote gay kids" to wrongly feel legitimized. "And then these kids are locked into a lifestyle with their choices limited, and many times this can be disastrous to them as they get into the behavior which leads to disease and death," Anderson said. She added that if LGBT kids weren't encouraged to come out of the closet in the first place, they wouldn't be in a position to be bullied.

Dominic
Feb 4th, 2012, 11:52 PM
Wow some of the ppl in this story seriously deserve to be shot. I'm 100% serious. They should feel responsible for these kids' deaths. May guilt haunt them for the rest of their lives.

jameshazza
Feb 5th, 2012, 12:19 AM
Get me on a fucking plane. And give me a fucking gun. This is beyond tragic, so young. I'm truly saddened at this. This is why I'm glad I'm not American (without starting a different arguement). The country is so good and sophisticated on so many levels and then all the extremism rife through it just makes it so idiotic and damaging.

jameshazza
Feb 5th, 2012, 12:28 AM
*UPDATE* I hate her (no offense intended) but this is the sort of stuff GaGa would back for publcity (not saying thats her only motive) If this was tweeted to her and other celebrity gay activists I'm sure they'd take notice. If they haven't already.

Dominic
Feb 5th, 2012, 01:19 AM
Get me on a fucking plane. And give me a fucking gun. This is beyond tragic, so young. I'm truly saddened at this. This is why I'm glad I'm not American (without starting a different arguement). The country is so good and sophisticated on so many levels and then all the extremism rife through it just makes it so idiotic and damaging.

I understand what you mean, if I had a gun and was put in front of those ppl I would REALLY have to fight myself not to shoot. These ppl are just evil, no kidding.

jameshazza
Feb 5th, 2012, 01:21 AM
I understand what you mean, if I had a gun and was put in front of those ppl I would REALLY have to fight myself not to shoot. These ppl are just evil, no kidding.

We can only take hope that in 50 years time this BS won't happen. But its us who have to make the changes to allow that to happen.

Dominic
Feb 5th, 2012, 01:26 AM
God I can't believe it a school that basically encourages bullying, that is one of the most ridiculous things I've hear. It should be bombed.. at night when nobody is in it lol. Seriously how come these ppl can keep their jobs being that disgusting. How does the educational system work in the USA? You would never see something like that here.

Moveyourfeet
Feb 5th, 2012, 02:02 AM
Heartbreaking. Thanks for posting.

It had been a hard day: the annual "Day of Truth" had been held at school, an evangelical event then-sponsored by the anti-gay ministry Exodus International, whose mission is to usher gays back to wholeness and "victory in Christ" by converting them to heterosexuality.

These EXODUS International and Focus on the Family bastards are so full of shit. My mum, brother AND sister took me to those self hating queens about 10 yrs ago. Those people are such losers, even my family was :unsure:

njnetswill
Feb 5th, 2012, 03:31 AM
How does the educational system work in the USA? You would never see something like that here.

The greatest tragedy of the American education system is its extremely decentralized nature. Local school boards and administrators have way too much power and inequality between school districts is extreme. No accountability at all, to student performance or student safety.

miffedmax
Feb 5th, 2012, 04:04 AM
What fucking idiots. Not allowing people to beat up kids is going to turn the gay. :rolleyes:

ptkten
Feb 5th, 2012, 05:01 AM
Minnesota's a strange state politically. It's a very liberal state for the most part, particularly in Minneapolis/St. Paul and the inner suburbs of the Twin Cities, and it has long voted for Democratic Presidents, but the exurbs of the cities have become havens for religious conservatives. Michele Bachmann's congressional district in particular has oddly become very right wing, so it's no surprise to me that this is happening there. I would imagine though, given the politics in the rest of the state, that something will soon be done about it.

moby
Feb 5th, 2012, 05:20 AM
Some of the comments are illuminating. There are even kids from the school district, or who are friends of some of the victims posting.


Greg Eatroff |5 hours, 55 minutes ago
"Family Values" is theocratic code for "we will leave your children to die."

Morgan Sheridan | 4 hours, 20 minutes ago
You have it exactly right. They WANT those LGBTQ kids to die. There is no doubt about it. My brother had to face similar when he was growing up and between the ages of 11 and 18 had collected in a binder all the letters that threatened him with abuse, beatings and death. He had over 200.

This comment got a bunch of replies, and is very relevant to one of the strands of discussion in the now closed MCourt thread in GM - can and should one be tolerant towards bigots?

Josh Matejka |6 hours, 54 minutes ago
Okay. I'm not trying to be ignorant or hateful or anything of that nature. I just want to ask a simple question and I'd appreciate some (mature) feedback. Not that this article implies such, but am I the only one who feels that not being completely supportive of the LGBT movement makes you a target of ridicule? I understand it isn't nearly as prevalent, but I feel like a lot of people are beginning to alienate those who don't fully support this movement.

Most of the replies say no, here are a couple:

null | 6 hours, 0 minutes ago
I'm really not sure what 'rights', exactly, or what kind of 'respect' you'd be looking for. Just translate this onto people calling black teens the N word and telling them to go back home to the plantation, and to silencing black teachers who have anything to positive to say about being anything other than WHITE, and you have your answer as to how much respect that sort of attitude should deserve.

LGBTQ isn't a 'movement' like grunge rock is a movement, and isn't something you can disagree about like you can disagree about whether rap is a worthwhile artform. This is something that defines their identity to many people, and not being accepting on a policy or any broad level is equivalent to making their lives hell. This is people's lives at stake.

What's at stake for people who simply aren't 'on board' with the LGBTQ 'movement'? An opinion about how certain kinds of penetration are 'icky'? Their personal interpretation of some holy book or other? Feeling people whose attractions are different than yours are maybe not entirely disgusting, but just a little gross?

No one needs to be supportive, if by that you mean joining a GLBTQ club, sending gay people money, or dating a GLBTQ individual. But maybe, perhaps, allowing bullying to occur right in front of your eyes and either ignoring it or staying quiet to save your job or in deference to some school policy-- just maybe that makes you an unacceptable human being, ethically speaking. If that's uncomfortable to hear, good. I wish all those teachers who watched students being bullied and said nothing are quite uncomfortable about looking themselves in the mirror and calling themselves morally acceptable human beings for a good long time. For the rest of their lives, hopefully.


Nicki Viso | 6 hours, 6 minutes ago
Hi Josh,
Hopefully you find this mature enough. In short, by not supporting the movement, an individual is saying "yes, this person can and should be a 2nd class citizen. They do not deserve the same rights and freedoms I have" or "I don't see what the big fuss is. LGBTQ people have the same rights and freedoms I have. They want special rights!" for whatever reason they have (which is most often religious). The first one is just plain discrimination, which is wrong on so many levels. We shouldn't discriminate against our fellow citizens. The 2nd one is just plain false information. There are over 1,000 legal rights granted to heterosexual couples who are legally married, such as tax and health benefits.

With that being said, why shouldn't a person who doesn't support equal rights for all of their fellow citizens be a target of ridicule?

Lord Choc Ice
Feb 5th, 2012, 05:29 AM
Sad to hear but not surprising.

Steven.
Feb 5th, 2012, 05:40 AM
Absolutely disgusting. It kills me to read this shit so often, and I just wish they all knew life gets better.

perseus2006
Feb 5th, 2012, 06:05 AM
It's not just this school district. These attitudes do not exist in a vacuum, for example, The U.S has a Presidential Campaign in process to determine who the Republican candidate will be to oppose Obama in the November elections. Two of them remaining in the contest are in complete agreement of the treatment these kids endured: Santorum and the Newt. Romney would agree with the means but probably not the end result.

Others on the national stage also support these attitudes: Bachman, Palin, Angle and virtually the entire membership of organizations like the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, Evangelical Christians, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church (Council of Bishops, for example) and those who refer to themselves as Very Conservative.

The USA is in far more danger from fundamentalist Christians that it ever was from fundamentalist Islam. The Chinese curse hangs over this country: "May you live in interesting times."

Monica_Rules
Feb 5th, 2012, 11:26 AM
I find it funny that in one part of the article the woman claims that this is being done to 'turn people straight from being gay'

But in another part says this law is in place to stop people turning gay from being straight?

What a moronic way of thinking. In the first instance you can't change from being gay or straight thats just who you are.