One small battle won.

Here’s a Rolling Stone article from a month ago about the Anoka-Hennepin school district and its war on gay kids, which I have written about before. It’s painful to read, it tells the stories of a handful of victims of that school district in a very personal way. I won’t blame you if you can’t read it in detail. There will not be a test.

I bring this up because there’s been a tiny victory. A lawsuit settled out of court, some concessions to new policies, a cash payment. You can read the details of the settlement here. One member of the school board, Kathy Tingelstad, resigned. She said the settlement was going to cost too much.

Cost too much.

This is the school district that had nine suicides in two years. Where teachers were forbidden by policy to ever show “personal support for GLBT people”, and that tried to get that “ex-gay” bullshit into the counseling offices.

Cost too fucking much. Consider it a weregild, Kathy. $270,000 is only $30,000 per dead kid. It’s a bargain.

Apparently the rather pathetic training the teachers were given on bullying consisted of PowerPoint presentations. I wonder if there was space for questions. I’d like to believe that at least one teacher, upon being told never to show personal support of GLBT people, promptly asked “Does that include my GLBT students?”

I can never understand when people say things like “we don’t want our children to think that gays are normal”, or “we don’t want gays near our children”. It’s like they really don’t see that gays are their children. I can promise you that no school in the world imports homosexuals from some mysterious fairyland in order to seduce your kids. What happens is that about ten percent of your kids are gay. Just like everyone else. Anoke-Hennepin school district has about 39,000 students, so about 3,900 of them are gay. It’s not that fucking difficult, this isn’t some weird disease that they catch or a cult that they’re lured into, it’s just how they are. About the same number are left-handed, why doesn’t that freak anyone out?

I can only assume that members of the Parents Action League either keep their gay kids so deep in the closet that they have grandchildren before they come out and start seeking therapy and maybe looking for real happiness, or that they learn to have a tiny mote of basic human compassion and quit that league of hate soon after being confronted with the reality of their gay kid. Terrifyingly, it seems most likely to me that they stick the poor kids into “ex-gay” programs, where systematic psychological abuse will train them to fake it really well for a couple of years.

Somewhere in one of those links, I’m too pissed off to track it down, Barb Anderson asked, out of apparent terror of gays being treated like real people, “What if a 15-year-old is seduced into homosexual behavior and then contracts AIDS?” The awful truth is that this hypothetical kid with HIV would still have a better life than anyone perceived as gay in that district, student or teacher. Well, at least after they hypothetically graduate and get away from the bullying.

It’s a better life than Samantha Johnson or Justin Aaberg ever had. How much did that cost?

See, I’m really not feeling optimistic about this for the long term. Abusers always make lots promises when the law gets involved, talk about big changes, apologize and swear they’ll never let it happen again. But things just don’t change quickly. We’ll give it a try, sure, and maybe they’ll be able to make a real change for the better. I think we can probably encourage that a bit by constantly reminding them that we are not talking about spooky monsters that creep out of the closet and make your kids gay, we are talking about your kids. We are talking about the children of the district whose safety and well-being are entrusted to the care of the schools.

So by all means, hire your consultants, train your staff, develop your plans and policies. Think carefully and consult with real professionals, not those clowns who say “gay” can be cured. Remember that the world is watching.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on March 6, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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