Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New policy is better than old policy on sexual orientation in Minnesota's largest school district.

A couple of weeks ago it was reported that the Anoka-Hennepin School District dropped it's "anti-gay" policy regarding the promotion of homosexuality. It was seen as a victory by gay activists.

In fact, the new policy is stronger than the old one. The old policy simply said the district would not teach homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle. The problem with that policy is it was limited to homosexuality and it was unclear what "advocate the homosexual lifestyle" meant.

Here's the wording of the old policy:
"We recommend that while respect be maintained toward all people, homosexuality not be taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle and that district staff and their resources not advocate the homosexual lifestyle."
The new language is as follows:
"Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations. Anoka-Hennepin staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation including but not limited to student-led discussions. If and when staff address sexual orientation, it is important that staff do so in a respectful manner that is age-appropriate, factual, and pertinent to the relevant curriculum."
This expands the definition to encompass transgenderism, transvestitism, cross dressing and so forth. It also makes explicit that sexual orientation is not a part of the district's curriculum and teachers must remain neutral regarding sexual orientation, e.g. they can't promote homosexuality. And lastly, it makes clear sexual orientation is an issue best left to families and churches not the school district. This should preclude situations where homosexual teachers attempt to promote homosexuality in the classroom or in their interactions with students. Situations had arisen in the past where teachers were leading the charge regarding pro-homosexual initiatives in a particular school.

This change is significant because Anoka-Hennepin is the largest public school district in the state with over 40,000 students and can serve as an example to other district wrestling with how to address this issue

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