FREE SPEECH ZONE | Avalon School Students and Staff Reach Out to GLBT Youth Community

We, the students and staff at Avalon School in St. Paul, have been deeply disturbed by the recent rash of student suicides in neighboring districts and around the country. The Star Tribune’s recent article, “Schools Struggle with Gay Policies,” brought to light how local schools are dealing with this crisis. Anoka-Hennepin School Board Chairman Tom Heidemann’s words that “these are issues that can be dealt with outside the classroom” miss the point that queer youth need a supportive school environment if they cannot find that it at home or at neighborhood institutions. When none of these environments serve as spaces of refuge and affirmation, it can be suffocating and sometimes deadly.  Anoka-Hennepin School District’s “neutrality” policy fails to serve its students and staff. Continue Reading

Veterans For Peace convention explores military suicide “epidemic”

Penny Coleman wishes people would stop thinking of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in combat veterans as a mental disorder. “It’s not a disorder, it’s an injury,” says Coleman flatly. Coleman led a workshop on PTSD and suicide prevention at the Veterans For Peace national convention held in Minneapolis the last week of August. About 20 Vietnam veterans, an Iraq war veteran, and two family members who each lost a sibling (one to suicide following her service in Vietnam and one in combat) shared what works and what doesn’t in treating PTSD in soldiers. What’s clear is that from Minnesota to Alabama to Colorado and Maine, VFP members devote time to helping their fellow veterans cope with combat-related trauma. Continue Reading