IT GETS BETTER

Four Gay Bullied Students Win Settlement From MN’s Anoka-Hennepin School District

A few weeks ago, the Anoka-Hennepin School District (Minnesota’s largest and perhaps not so coincidentally part of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s purview) finally revised its policy on how teachers can talk about sexual orientation in the classroom.

Now the school board has settled a lawsuit with six current and former students, four of whom identify as gay or bisexual and all of whom claimed to have experienced severe bullying, for $270,000 of insurance money, reports the Washington Post.

The district will spend $500,000 of its own money to institute changes to “help prevent and address sex-based harassment at its middle and high schools.”

After a suicide cluster where as many as nine bullied Anoka-Hennepin students took their lives within two years, this is welcome news.

Those changes include hiring consultants and cooperating with federal authorities to make sure LGBT students feel comfortable in the school. And, it was, of course, financially pragmatic.

Tom Heidemann, chairman of the schoolboard, said the settlement “likely saved the district millions of dollars and many years of ongoing litigation.”

Kathy Tinglestad, the lone dissenter on the board who voted against settling, decided she would play the victim and resign over the disagreement. “Like a target of bullying,” said Tinglestad, “I choose to leave this situation, by resigning, instead of fighting back against the out-of-state bullies… [who] drug [this issue] through the mud.”

Sorry we wanted to get involved, Kath. Seemed like you guys needed some help, though, no?

Now time will tell whether the changes will work. They should allow teachers to intervene and protect their students when they are the subject of intense bullying, including physical abuse and verbal slurs.

Dylan Frey, a gay ninth-grade student named in the lawsuit, sees the light at the end of the tunnel. “I see change coming and I’m real excited for it,” he said.

In Anoka-Hennepin, it’s finally getting better.

Click through for the long list of measures to help prevent and address sex-based harassment at its middle and high schools the Department of Education has agreed to implent in Anoka-Hennepin.