Anoka-Hennepin changes Snow Days coronation over lesbian students’ election

Print

After the student body at Champlin Park High School voted two lesbians as royalty for the Snow Days coronation, the school district changed a longstanding protocol for the event, telling student they couldn’t walk into the celebration in pairs, because for two girls to do so might offend some students. Unlike past years, this year all royalty must walk in separately. The school is part of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, which has become ground zero in Minnesota in the battle over anti-LGBT bullying.

  LATE BREAKING: Students will be allowed to walk together.

“Less than 24 hours after filing a lawsuit to restore the rights of two lesbian students at a high school in Minnesota, the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with their co-counsels, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Faegre & Benson, LLP, reached an agreement with the Anoka-Hennepin School District and Champlin Park High School.

“The agreement ensures the students, Desiree (“Dez”) Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom, will be able to participate as a couple in their school’s Snow Days winter event. The agreement was explained in a joint press statement from Sarah Lindstrom, Desiree Shelton, their counsel, and the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Champlin Park High School, Principal Michael George, Superintendent Dennis Carlson, and their counsel.

“We feel this decision is more respectful for all students,” Anoka-Hennepin spokesman Brett Johnson told KSTP.

Steve Shaw of KSTP said, “The district says that it arrived at its decision to have the students enter the Snow Days coronation separately because there are also students that don’t agree with two girls walking in together.”

Despite that, the report notes that the student body voted the two girls in as a couple.

Staff received this email from the district on Thursday evening:

There have been some rumors about our upcoming Snow Days Pep Fest on Monday. Let me provide you with accurate information. Our goal is to make the event as positive for everyone involved – our students, members of Snow Days royalty, our staff and parents. There is some concern that we will not let members of royalty walk as couples during the coronation ceremony. Please remember that students were nominated as individuals, not as couples – therefore we will present them to you and honor them as individuals during the Pep Fest. This has been a year with some changes to CPHS traditions, so as we reviewed Snow Days, we decided this was a better plan that honors and respects every student.

It’s not the first time that the school has been the under the gun on LGBT issues. Several years ago, Barb Anderson of the Minnesota Family Council urged the district to remove posters that offered counseling to LGBT students who faced harassment in the schools.

“I briefly expressed my reasons as to why this poster was a propaganda piece and that without parental knowledge or consent, students calling this number could be indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle, referred to homosexual support groups, used for political purposes or put at risk for being affirmed in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors,” Anderson wrote. “My concerns did not fall on deaf ears.”

The school complied with the Minnesota Family Council’s request. The poster that the group targeted was from the 130-year old Family Partnership, a Minneapolis nonprofit that helps “the communities most vulnerable families.”

Last month, Anderson said that LGBT advocates were responsible for LGBT students being bullied.

The district has seen considerable controversy over its “neutrality policy,” which bars discussions of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender issues in the classroom, and more than n9ine suicides in the last 18 months, some of which LGBT advocates say involved anti-LGBT bullying.

Update:

Court action sought over Snow Days coronation barring lesbian couple

Lawsuit filed against Anoka-Hennepin School District on behalf of lesbian couple