Combating Dystopia.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teen Suicide Factory

The Teen Suicide Epidemic in Michele Bachmann's District | Mother Jones:

At this point it is safe to say Anoka-Hennepin school district is developing something of an image problem. The district has had a high teen suicide rate the past two years, and amid the spat of homophobia fueled suicides in 2010, began to come up as part of the dialog on volatile issue.

Its interesting to note that the school has, within the past two school years, had 6 suicides that have been linked to sexual orientation and subsequent bullying. Additionally, the school's policy on bullying when it pertains to real or imagined glbt issues is decidedly lackluster:

The Ankoa-Hennepin school district “neutrality” policy has been in place since 1995 and restricts teachers from speaking about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) persons in the classroom. Local teachers have also come forward to speak out against the “neutrality” policy because they say it restricts discussions and enforcement of bullying and harassment polices and does not create a safe school environment often leaving them unable to to help.

The school's policy on neutrality essentially ties the hands of teachers and health professionals in the district and dissuades intervention or any affirmation of those perceived as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender while...not addressing the causal factors of said bullying whatsoever. One of the results? A suicide rate that is quickly becoming one of the highest in the nation, and an apparent apathy about modifying policy enough to counteract it. The policy itself hangs frozen in a strange sort of ideological limbo in which it must attempt impartiality while not actively affirming what could be seen as an endorsement of the "homosexual agenda"(tm). The area's educational professionals expressed some justifiable confusion as to how to proceed, leaving the socio-environmental conditions perpetuating the toxicity of bullying unchecked.

The Justice Department, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, The Southern Poverty Law Center and National Center for Lesbian Rights have all been investigating Anoka-Hennepin since 2010, with the SPLC and NCLR both recently filing suit against the district over the detrimental policy and the hostile social climate of the school district.

The Mother Jones' article by Stephanie Mencimer notes a tactic put to use by area churches looking to counter what they feared were "pro-gay" messages, in which they passed out "Day of Truth" tees and encouraged christian teens to "preach to" those they perceived as gay.

Another volley in the so-called culture wars, but ones with very real, very awful implications for those with the misfortune of being labeled as "other". If we entitle children and justify those that want to enforce school sanctioned repression through bullying, we further perpetuate the meme that some viewpoints and lives are more important than others, which by extension is nowhere near neutrality in my mind.

Above, is a clip from series 5 of the ever trendsetting series Skins. Franky's a troubled, ostracized androgynous teen who has yet to find her place. She makes for some compelling storytelling.


  1. If Michelle Bachman becomes president, I think it'll be time to move to Europe.

  2. America is odd enough, socio-politically right now. While I fully understand why James Baldwin quit the US of A back in the day, I think it falls to the rest of we socially marginalized to dig in and make our presences known.

    Second point: I said that when Bush won the first election. Then realized I was too poor to even consider packing up and living above some lovely pub in London. :(