Anoka-Hennepin teachers test requires affirmation of district’s LGBT policy


Some teachers at Anoka-Hennepin School District have failed a teachers test because they refused to affirm that the district’s policy limiting discussions of LGBT issues in the district’s schools is intended to make “students feel safe.”

The district’s policy is at the heart of a culture war in the district and is the subject of a lawsuit by six students and their parents who say the district has not taken appropriate steps to prevent bullying against students who are, or are perceived to be, LGBT.

City Pages reported on Wednesday that a training test required by all teachers contains the question: “One of the goals of the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy is to ensure all of our students feel safe and respected in our classrooms and/or while participating in school activities: true or false?”

City Pages notes that several teachers in the district are refusing to answer “true,” which causes them to fail the training test.

The policy states that “Anoka-Hennepin staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation including but not limited to student led discussions.”

Yet, the policy only targets LGBT issues. Mentions of heterosexuality are not covered by the policy, and that’s part of the reason the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed suit against the district on behalf of six students and their families.

The federal Department of Education and the Department of Justice have also launched investigations into the district after the suicide deaths of nine students in the past two years, several of whom were known to identify as LGBT.

CityPages also produced a cover story this week highlighting the suicide death of Erik Turbenson, who was a student at Anoka-Hennepin ten years ago. He was openly gay and took his own life after being bullying.