MN School District Appoints Ex-Gay Therapy Advocate to Anti-Bullying Task Force

Today in the world of ignorance and pure stupidity we have the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota. The school district is now in the process of forming a task force, following the national attention to a string of suicides by students and a federal investigation that revealed the school did not do enough to protect students from bullying.

This anti-bullying task force will have a bully who will try to push hateful rhetoric in the school district’s policy. Brian Lindquist, head of the Parents Action League, received an appointment to the committee despite his promotion of ex-gay therapy and calling AIDS a gay disease. He refers to it as GRID, Gay-Related Immune Disease, a name the illness had long before science had figured it out and one that stigmatizes the LGBT community.

Lindquist refers to LGBT people as though they suffer from a sexual disorder. All because they fall in love with another man or another woman? Lindquist’s rhetoric and actions promote and condone the bullying that has lead the suicides of young LGBT students. Yet, he receives an appointment to a committee charged with curbing the bullying in the school district. This action is beyond stupid. It is negligence towards the 8-year old boy who “acts” a little different than his peers. It is criminal towards the 15-year old who boy growing into a man’s body while his fellow students taunt him with shouts of “fag” and “fairy” and much worse. It is accessory to child abuse as the high school juniors call a girl in their class a “dyke”.

Possibly worse yet, is who the school district did not name to the task force. As Think Progress’ Zack Ford writes:

Truth Wins Out points out that Anoka-Hennepin has made some troubling choices in who it has appointed to its new anti-bullying task force, and who it has rejected. Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin was one of the students who committed suicide and who has since dedicated her life to anti-bullying efforts, was rejected from the task force. So too was Jefferson Fietek, an anti-bullying trainer who serves as the faculty advisor for the local Gay-Straight Alliance.

Ford notes that the School Board Chair Tom Heidemann is “fully committed” to the task force’s goals but wants “very diverse points of view.” Evidently that means keeping the same structures that promote discrimination, hatred, and bullying of LGBT youth.

Mr. Heidemann, this task force that you helped assemble is meaningless with the inclusion of Brad Lindquist or any other person who promotes the his ideals. You have validated the rhetoric of hate and the actions of bullies. This move tells the LGBT youth in your school district that they have one less safe space in their lives and it comes at a time when the federal court rules the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Mr. Heidemann, do you fail to see the sick and twisted irony of this appointment? I guess it is possible that you do not. But, I must wonder if you realize the truth in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Justice here would mean creating a school district that encourages equality for all students and a safe haven for all students to learn.

Mr. Heidemann, students have ended their lives decades early as a result of people like Lindquist. Yet, here you help task him with ending bullying in your schools. You should be ashamed of yourself.

We need teachers, administrators, and staff members that help kids and teenagers find their own identities. We should be working to foster schools that say yes to kids of all walks of life – the jocks, the nerds, goths, LGBT students, the misfits, and of course those cool kids that pressure everyone else to fit in! Growing up can be hard enough. It shouldn’t be a hell that you want to escape from.

I am sure the pressure will mount in the coming days for you Mr. Heidemann. In the meantime please reconsider this decision and create a task force comprised of people who actually want to kindle tolerance and acceptance in your schools. Do the right thing.

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