Suing Over Bullying

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 8:56am

Students claim school policy prevents staffers from stopping anti-gay bullying.

Five students are suing Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District for a policy they say does not do enough to protect them from bullying and harassment.

Two years ago the school board established a curriculum policy that asks teachers to remain neutral on sexual orientation in the classroom setting.

Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, says the policy prevents teachers and administrators from intervening when a student who is gay or appears to be gay is bullied.

"Parents have entrusted their kids to the school system and the school system has failed these families by clinging to a policy that violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection," Bauer said.

Mary Olson, spokesperson for the school district said they stand by their policy and have strict bullying and harassment laws which addresses sexual orientation.

"We have tried to make it really clear that our staff is to intervene when they see bullying," Olson said.

Kyle Rooker, 14, who is a plaintiff in the federal civil lawsuit, says he was bullied and told teachers on multiple occasions but not much was done.

"It got so bad that every day when the bus would arrive at the school I would want to hide under the chair to not get into school," Rooker said.

Olson said as of Thursday the district had not received a copy of the lawsuit but said it wants to work with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for National Center for Lesbian Rights, two national groups leading the lawsuit.

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