Minnesota School District Ends “No Promo Homo” Policy

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) raised money for the Minnesota Family Council, a supporter of Anoka-Hennepin's "no promo homo" policy.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5555182360/">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr

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Back in July, my colleague Stephanie Mencimer reported on a disturbing trend in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district—a cluster of teen suicide attempts, including nine deaths, that had led state officials to declare it a “suicide contagion area.” Parents and activists directed their ire, at least in part, at the district’s anti-LGBT gag rule, dubbed “no promo homo,” which prohibited faculty from casting homosexuality in a positive light. The policy was boosted by the Minnesota Family Council, a close ally of Rep. Michele Bachmann, who addressed a fundraiser for the group last spring. (The MFC has stated that gay teens who take their own lives bring it upon themselves.)

On Monday, the “no promo homo” policy was officially retired by the school board—an investigation from Rolling Stone may have been the last straw—and replaced it with a policy requiring staff to “affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students.” But as the American Independent‘s Andy Birkey reports, the anti-gay activists behind “no promo homo” didn’t go down quietly:

Lori Thompson, a frequent testifier at the board meetings and a member of the Parents Action League, complained of a “relentless campaign by homosexual activists” over the last 18 months. She said that the idea that the policy aided and abetted anti-LGBT bullying was false.

“Only the gullible and oblivious believe that line,” Thompson said.

She said repealing the policy would lead to “indoctrinating the porous young minds with the homosexual propaganda” and that “homosexual activists” had created a controversy where none exists.

“I blame these same adults for creating an unsafe environment for students who believe in traditional values,” she said, adding that that environment was perpetuated by “liberal sassy teachers who don’t know how to behave.”

As Birkey notes, activists in Anoka-Hennepin had also unsuccessfully pushed gay students to pursue conversion therapy to make them heterosexual.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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