Minnesota Family Council pushes back in Anoka-Hennepin anti-gay bullying controversy


The Minnesota Family Council (MFC) is pushing back against efforts to improve the climate for LGBT students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, where community members are mourning suicides by four LGBT students in the last year. The real issue is “homosexual indoctrination,” not anti-gay bullying, says MFC’s Tom Prichard, who says the students are dead because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle.” MFC’s campaign against anti-bullying education comes as national religious right groups mount a similar campaign in the aftermath of nearly half a dozen suicides by LGBT students around the country in the last month. 

Prichard asserts that the suicide death of 15-year-old Justin Aaberg was not due to anti-LGBT bullying. Aaberg took his life in July, and his mother and friends say anti-LGBT bullying played a factor Prichard claims that “homosexual activists” are “manipulating” his death to get homosexual indoctrination programs into the school district.

“Whatever the exact reason for Justin’s suicide it’s an enormous tragedy that shouldn’t be manipulated for ideological purposes which is what’s being done now,” he wrote on Thursday. “I’ll of course be accused of being unloving, hateful, etc. But is the loving thing to encourage and promote unhealthy and harmful behaviors and practices?”

He continued:

I would agree that youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk, because they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle. These alternative sexual identifications or lifestyles deny the reality that we are created male and female. To live or try to live in conflict with how we are made will invariably cause problems, e.g. emotional, psychological and social. Notwithstanding gay activist assertions to the contrary, people aren’t gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. by God’s design or nature. We are male and female with sexual expression designed for a lifelong union between a man and a woman. Denying or fighting against this reality is the reason alternative forms of sexual expression, whether homosexual or heterosexual, will put people at greater risk. To assert otherwise is to deny reality and involves “kicking against the goad” to use a biblical analogy.

Prichard echoed a similar sentiment in the Star Tribune.

“I don’t think parents want their kids indoctrinated in homosexuality,” he said, adding that Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), often the only safe space for LGBT students on campus, should be removed from schools. “It’s sad and harmful for kids to celebrate homosexuality when in fact it’s not a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

The Minnesota Family Council is also connected to the Parents Action League, a group that has been lobbying the school board not to adopt any LGBT-specific anti-bullying programming. MFC’s Prichard told the Minnesota Independent that he hasn’t been involved in PAL personally, but Barb Anderson, the organization’s staffer focusing on education issues, represents PAL.

PAL wants GSAs removed from district campuses, advocates for “ex-gay” therapy and opposes any efforts to include a positive portrayal of LGBT issues in the school district.

While MFC and PAL are working against changes to the school district, the issue has taken on a national significance. Over the last month, there has been a rash of suicides by teenagers who were gay or were perceived to be gay by their tormentors thought they were gay.

Openly gay 19-year-old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi jumped to his death last week after two fellow students secretly videotaped him and his boyfriend in an intimate moment and broadcast it online.

Thirteen-year-old Houston student Asher Brown shot himself in the head after being “bullied to death” (in his family’s words) over his religion and because his fellow students thought he was gay.

In California, 13-year old Seth Walsh hung himself in his parents back yard after enduring anti-gay taunts from his peers. Following Walsh’s death, those children tearfully confessed their taunting to the police.

On Sept. 9, 15-year-old Indiana student Billy Lucas took his own life after what friends say was anti-gay bullying.

These instances, plus the four suicides by LGBT students that advocates say have occurred in the Anoka-Hennepin area, have prompted calls for school reform around bullying.

Like the Parents Action League’s efforts in Minnesota, the national Focus on the Family has launched TrueTolerance.org, a website that teaches that LGBT bullying prevention efforts “become a gateway for homosexuality promotion in school.”

“Once schools are forced to include special categories for things like sexual orientation or gender identity in their policies, that has been used as leverage to get in homosexual-themed curriculum for kids as young as kindergarten [and to introduce] so-called ‘diversity training’ for high school students and teachers,” said Candi Cushman, education analyst with Focus on the Family. “So this just becomes a gateway for homosexuality promotion in the school.”

6 thoughts on “Minnesota Family Council pushes back in Anoka-Hennepin anti-gay bullying controversy

  1. Tom Prichard and others like him are NOT asking “What would Jesus do?” Because Jesus would not say, “Go, and bully your neighbor.” Jesus would stand up for and with the victim rather than blame him (or… her). How sad! Does he not know that LGBT people are male and female too? They are not denying the gender they know they are, they are expressing it in the way God meant them to. Does he not understand that homosexuality is more than an act, it is people in all aspects of their lives? In addition, homosexuality is not imposed or promoted. Someone who is NOT gay will not become gay by learning to treat gay people with respect. Tom Prichard is supporting the WRONG side, the side opposite of even his god.

  2. Tom Prichard claims that teens are committing suicide because of their unhealthy lifestyle (i.e. homosexuality).  That doesn’t explain why heterosexual teens who are bullied because they are perceived to be gay are also committing suicide.

    These tragedies are happening because the people around them are not only not accepting them for who they are, but actively abusing them mentally and sometimes physically. 

    Schools are no place to follow some people’s religious beliefs about sexual identity.  Whether Mr. Prichard likes it, we live ina democracy that needs to embrace diversity.  And yes that includes his opinions, but it should not prevent schools from caring for all students.

  3. The Minnesota “Family Council”, and the like elsewhere have to say crap like this to try to conceal their own, more or less direct, responsbility for bashing and suicides. Our (Council on Homosexuality and Relgion) research and literature surveys show that most perpetrators are authoritarian personalities who consider they are doing what everybody wants, or at least, what the “authorities” want. Minnesota Family Council, by their adamant homophobia, authorises and encourages bashing and suicides.

  4. Speaking as someone who was beaten unconscious by a bully in the middle of a high school classroom (and just for being ‘different’, not even for being gay), I think Pritchard needs to be bullied. Maybe a group of peers should follow him around, shouting at him, shoving him, and punching him in the face. What do you say?  It’s not legal to advocate such a thing?  Then why can HE get away with it?

  5. For all the talk about homosexuality being an “unhealthy lifestyle”, lets expose the hidden agenda here.  For people like Pritchard this is a moral issue and a religious issue.  Everything else is window dressing to conceal what their Christianist agenda is.  They do not want schools to be secular and welcoming of all students.  They want schools to reflect their Christianist agenda and for this country to be a Christianist country.  All the talk of science and health is just talk.   What they do not want is any law or policy that acknowleges homosexuality as deserving of any respect or civil right.  They don’t trust that their preaching to their choir should be enough to guide their behavior.  They want to tell the rest of us what to believe and how to behave.  If they don’t want their children exposed to secular concepts, then they should home school or establish their own schools.  Religious groups have done this before.  I don’t want their kids attending school with mine. 

  6. I absolutely love the comments made about this article. As an out lesbian life has been a struggle and it is good to know that people, who do or don’t agree with my lifestyle, are willing to stand up for the underdogs!! Thank you!!! :)

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