Lori Sturdevant, an editorial writer and columnist, has covered state government and politics for more than 30 years.

Linking Bachmann to suicides reaches too far

Posted by: Lori Sturdevant Updated: February 6, 2012 - 3:22 PM

Rolling Stone magazine’s Feb. 16 issue stretches farther than this Minnesota journalist would in an otherwise compelling article about the suicides of nine LGBT teens in the Anoka-Hennepin School District and the school “neutrality” policy that served them poorly.

The stretch is the story’s attempt to link the suicides with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, the area’s three-term congresswoman and, until last month, a GOP presidential candidate.

Bachmann is a graduate of Anoka High School. She cut her political teeth in the state Senate as an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage. Her 2004 claims that defenders of gay rights were “targeting our children” in public school sex education classes were laughably homophobic. Her refusal in 2006 to back state anti-bullying legislation was ill-advised.

But that’s a long way from condoning teen suicide, as the article comes close to implying that Bachmann has done.

I’d call it fair to note that Bachmann’s views and the mindset that inspired the flawed “neutrality” position at Anoka-Hennepin schools share a common cultural root. I’d go so far as to say that both have failed to acknowledge LGBT people as full members of the human family.

I’d also want readers to know that the “neutrality” policy appears to be on its way out at Anoka-Hennepin. The district’s board is scheduled to vote next week on a revision more affirming of all students.  That board and every other Minnesota adult who works with teens should convey the unwavering message that bullying is never acceptable behavior.  

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