The Parents Action League says policies in Anoka-Hennepin School District are unfair to students with conservative values.
A parents group has been a prominent player as the Anoka-Hennepin School District considers scrapping its Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy in favor of a broader controversial-topics policy.
At Monday's school board meeting, the Parents Action League (www- .parentsactionleague.org) made 10 demands that include resources and support for "students of faith, moral conviction, ex-homosexuals and ex-transgenders," as well as for information on so-called conversion therapies.
The league, formed in 2010, says it favors keeping the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy, which requires staff to remain neutral on issues involving sexual orientation. They argue that the policy protects children from the influence of gay activists, and they accuse the district of using a range of anti-bullying measures as a pretext to promote a pro-gay agenda.
The neutrality policy is the target of a lawsuit alleging that it has contributed to a hostile atmosphere for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, with some students subjected to bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. In addition, some teachers say the policy is confusing.
The school board has not formally responded to the league's demands, but Superintendent Dennis Carlson Green said at least one -- access to resources on so-called conversion therapy -- goes against what public education is about. "We accept kids as they are," he said. "We don't ask them to be someone else."
After Monday's school board meeting, league President Laurie Thompson responded to a list of e-mailed questions seeking elaboration on the group and its positions:
Q How many members does your group have?
A The number of active members varies from month to month. We have over 1,200 District 11 citizens who signed our petition.
Q How are you organized?
A We are citizens in District 11 who meet monthly, or more often if there is a need to respond to a violation of parental rights.
Q Are any school board members active participants?
A No, there are no school board members involved.
Q Do you have a deadline in mind for the school district to respond to your demands?
A. We have not determined that at this time.
Q. What is the minimum response you feel you need?
A. We need to see a response to all of the 10 demands.
Q Where does your passion come from?
A Our group is a diverse group and therefore the sources of our positions are diverse. Our passion comes from deep concern for the welfare of children, for parental rights, for religious liberty and for the integrity of public education.
What is a bit troubling about this question is that we rarely if ever hear it asked of progressives. For example, some progressives attend synagogues and churches that affirm liberal beliefs about the nature and morality of homosexuality (i.e. "gay theology") or that take positions on same-sex marriage and yet we rarely hear their theological beliefs questioned in mainstream media reports.
The other problem with discussions of religious beliefs is that many in our culture erroneously believe that the concept of a separation of church and state precludes individuals from having religiously derived values that shape public policy decisions. Of course, that only applies to conservatives.
Q What do you hear from students about how the district's recent initiatives have affected the school climate?
A An unspoken reality about public education today is that neither conservative students nor conservative teachers nor conservative administrators feel the same freedom to express their beliefs and feelings that liberal students, teachers and administrators do. Even if both policies were eliminated, it would only be liberal teachers who would voice their philosophical, political and moral views on homosexuality in the class. The left has successfully and speciously conflated bullying, bigotry and hatred with conservative moral propositions and in so doing, they're able to impose both formal and de facto censorship in public schools.
Conservative students do not feel comfortable expressing their opinions on homosexuality for fear of being labeled haters and bigots.
There's another reality of public school life that is never discussed: Many students and teachers on both the political right and left would prefer that the topic of homosexuality be kept out of school. As usual, the political goals of a handful of political activists on the left are creating problems for the entire school community.
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409