Yes, you read that right. It’s the gays who are bullying people, according to the congresswoman from Minnesota’s sixth congressional district.
I don’t mean to be catty (okay, yes I do) but the only bullying by a gay Michele Bachmann is likely to be experiencing might better be called spousal abuse.
Turning truth inside out to blame the victims is nothing new for Michele Bachmann, or her ilk. She and some of her most generous supporters worked for years to create a hostile environment for LGBTQ students in that district. A group calling themselves Parents Action League, an outgrowth of the ultra-conservative group Minnesota Family Council (which seems to be a virulent copy of the Family Research Council) helped put in place a policy colloquially called No Homo Promo. That finally ended fourteen years later in 2009, far too late. But under pressure by PAL, the Anoka/Hennepin district followed up with a feckless Neutrality policy that told teachers they could not address any gay issues. Afraid for their jobs, confused by vague language, teachers and staff members were afraid to do anything to protect targeted students. This gave bullies free reign, and they took full advantage.
Members of PAL claimed that by coming out the students brought the bullying on themselves, so for their own good they should stay in the closet. Any attempted formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance club on campus, they warned, would bring on more suicides. They neatly turned the tables and announced the recognition of oneself as LGBTQ to be so depressing an experience it drives teens to suicide.
In less than two years in the Anoka/Hennepin school district, nine kids committed suicide. Four of them self-identified as LGBTQ, or were perceived by their peers to be so. They were viciously bullied in schools and online. Funerals were held with frightening regularity during 2008 and 2009. Across the nation other students were choosing death over living in a hell on earth. It was Tyler Clementi’s death that focused the national attention on the suicides prompted by bullying.
I had already written two novels about children in rainbow families for middle-grade students, Riding the Rainbow and A Man’s Man (expected release date December 2014), and each had elements of bullying. But what was happening within miles of my comfortable home demanded stronger action and reaction. I pulled no punches in The Boxer Rebellion, did not flinch from the agony of the victims, and used the same vulgarities hurled daily at students in schools everywhere.
My book is a fictionalization of the events in Anoka/Hennepin school district during those two years. Many of the types of incidents I depict did happen to unfortunate victims during that time. Each new suicide was the tolling of a bell reminding us that no one is an island. We were so focused on those nine, it was easy to ignore the ten times as many kids who attempted to kill themselves during the same time period. More continued to suffer the cruel combination of bullying and the lack of protection from school staff. Sorrow and horror hung over not just the district, but the entire state of Minnesota.
Years have passed since those nine died, but the pain of the parents and friends of the victims continue to resonate in the community. Kids are still being bullied, and unfortunately we still have suicides.
Parents and schools have agreed there need to be rules and consequences for bullying on and off the campus. Michele Bachmann strongly disagrees, constantly arguing against allowing LGBTQ students to live easy in their own skins.She still turns the story around to suit her own conservative Christian agenda. As recently as two months ago, she declared that it’s the gays who are bullies. My book may be fiction, but it is based on one big truth: bullying kills.
If you feel that people aren’t taking gay bullying seriously enough, buy a copy of The Boxer Rebellion and give it to a school teacher, librarian, or principal. Donate one to your local library, or request they purchase one.