Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin school board voted Monday night to replace a
heavily criticized policy that has been described by LGBT groups as a de facto gag order prohibiting the discussion of sexual orientation in schools. In a 5-1 vote, the board
decided to swap the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy with one that
reflects "respectful exchanges of views," the Star Tribune reports.
The decision comes less than two weeks after the publication of a controversial Rolling Stone article
detailing a "cluster" of nine teen suicides in Rep. Michele Bachmann's
home district, with at least four of the nine either gay or perceived to
be gay. The district recently released a statement condemning the article, calling it a "grossly distorted portrayal."
summer, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for
Lesbian Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of five students in the
district for alleged disregard of bullying in schools under the
neutrality policy. The Justice Department has also opened an investigation of the school district in conjunction with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.
"Today is the first day in nearly 18 years
that Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District no longer has a harmful
policy that singles out lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
students," the SPLC said in a Monday statement.
The new policy takes effect immediately for more than 38,500 students and 2,800 teachers.