Minnesota task force to stop bullying includes unlikely leader

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In recent years, the grave consequences of youth bullying have come into the public consciousness. The emotional stress put on children and teens, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, has led to many highly publicized and tragic suicides. 

In Minnesota, The Anoka-Hennepin School District recently created an anti-bullying task force to address the issue of bullying in its schools as part of a legal settlement. 

Bullying in Anoka-Hennepin schools gained national attention after nine students committed suicide in the span of two years. All nine students were bullied by their classmates, either for being LGBTQ or perceived as LGBTQ.

The Anoka-Hennepin district falls within conservative Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s congressional district.

This alarming string of suicides prompted local government to label the area a “suicide contagion area.” 

The Department of Justice and the Office of Civil Rights both launched investigations   into the school district.

The bullying also brought two lawsuits that claimed the distict had failed to adequately respond to persistent verbal and physical bullying based on real or perceived sexual orientation, according to LGBTQ Nation, an online magazine.

One of the conditions of the lawsuit settlement was to remove the district’s “neutrality” policy, which required teachers and district employees to take a neutral stance on issues of sexuality or sexual orientation, LGBTQ Nation reported. 

The district was also required to put together a task force to address the problem of bullying in the district.

The task force was intended to curb the bullying and harassment of students so that they could enjoy a safe educational environment, but then Bryan Lindquist was appointed to a prominent position on the board.

Lindquist is a prominent member of the Parents Action League, a Minnesota based anti-gay group that was recently added to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of active hate groups, specifically for demonizing and spreading lies about the LGBTQ community, according to Trust Wins Out.

Lindquist champions scientifically discredited information about the LGBTQ community.

The hateful mentality that Lindquist brings to the district contradicts the purpose of the task force. Appointing someone who is himself a bully is completely inappropriate. 

This is not about politics or disclosing sexuality. It is about protecting kids who cannot protect themselves. The students who committed suicide, regardless of their sexual orientation, were children, and nobody was there to protect them. 

The purpose of the Anoka-Hennepin task force is to make sure that this does not happen again. It is working to ensure that all students are protected against bullying.