Minnesota school board ends policy blamed for bullying and suicides
Anoka-Hennepin, Minnesota’s largest school district, has abandoned a criticized policy that required teachers to remain neutral on issues of sexual identity in the classroom. It was replaced with one that’s meant to foster a respectful learning environment for all students, gay or straight, religious or not, liberal or conservative. Critics contend the old policy muzzled teachers and prevented them from holding effective discussions to reduce bullying against students who are gay or perceived to be gay. New policy says when contentious political, religious, social matters or economic issues come up – it does not specifically cite sexuality issues – teachers shouldn’t try to persuade students to adopt a particular viewpoint. It calls for teachers to foster respectful exchanges of views. It also says in such discussions, staff should affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.