Students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota were subjected to harassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, at least in part the result of a gag policy that prevented teachers from discussing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the district to end the gag policy and address the anti-LGBT harassment within its schools.
It was filed on behalf of students who were subjected to a constant torrent of anti-gay and sexist slurs due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Students were also threatened and, in some cases, choked, shoved, urinated on and even stabbed with a pencil.
School authorities did little to nothing to prevent this harassment. In several cases, school officials simply told the harassed students to “lay low” or “try to stay out of people’s way” rather than punish the abusive students. One student withdrew from her school when nothing was done by school officials to address the harassment she suffered.
Anoka-Hennepin teachers have understood the district’s “Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy,” which prevents them from discussing issues related to LGBT people, as also preventing them from stopping anti-gay harassment and effectively acting as a gag policy.
The SPLC filed the lawsuit after attempts to reach a solution with school officials failed.