Life for LGBT Teens in Bachmann’s Minnesota

gay_bullyingYou need to head over to Rolling Stone and read this article about what LGBT kids go through in Michele Bachmann’s district every day, largely because local evangelicals have waged an all-out war on the area’s LGBT population. This blatant bigotry only serves to intensify the bullying that’s par for the course for LGBT teenagers at schools across the country. In Anoka, homosexuality is forbidden from even being discussed. Teachers and administrators do not intervene when LGBT students are harassed by their peers because they fear being fired for violating a district policy requiring them to stay “neutral” on, and banning positive references to, LGBT people and issues. And the culture of shame and fear that “Christian” fundamentalists (many of them from the same conservative church that Bachmann attended until just last year) have created around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities  is so pervasive that LGBT teens feel scared and unsafe within the walls of their schools.

And they’re killing themselves because of it. So many, in fact, that the state of Minnesota declared the Anoka-Hennepin school district a “suicide contagion area.” After one of the suicides — that of Sam Johnson in 2009 — students in the district’s GSAs participated in the Day of Silence. In this GLSEN-sponsored event, participants spent the day in silence to illustrate the silencing effect of the anti-LGBT bullying that led to the loss of several of their peers.  The response? Local evangelical churches organized a so-called “Day of Truth” event; their kids showed up at school wearing shirts telling their peers they could pray away the gay and engaged in anti-gay proselytizing in the hallways. (At that time the “Day of Truth” events were sponsored by Exodus International; it’s now been shifted to Focus on the Family and re-branded as a so-called “Day of Dialogue” in a transparent attempt to soft-pedal anti-gay bigotry.)

The way local evangelical “Christians” have doubled down on– not merely shown coldhearted indifference to, but doubled down on — the persecution of LGBT people, even in the wake of so many suicides, is pure evil.

Read, too, about Tammy Aaberg. Her son Justin was an Anoka High School student who committed suicide in 2010 due to anti-LGBT bullying, and his death turned her into an activist. Readers who know me know I have a soft spot in my heart for equality moms (including, I’m proud to say, my own). Hell hath no fury like a mom fighting for her LGBT child. But I have nothing short of awe for moms like Tammy Aaberg and Judy Shepard who fight for a child whom they’ve lost. I don’t know how they do it, but I admire their strength.

This is why the fight for our equality is so important. Slowly but surely, we’re building a world where no more Judy Shepards have to bury a child murdered for being gay, where no more Tammy Aabergs have to discover their baby boy dead in his bedroom because he couldn’t take another day of being bullied for his LGBT identity.

Please, read and share this article and resolve to keep fighting.

 

5 comments

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