Anoka Hennepin school board revises sexual orientation wording in new policy

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The Anoka-Hennepin school board's latest revision of a policy that handles class discussions on sexual orientation was considered an improvement by some who attended the meeting on Monday night, Star Tribune reported.

According to reporters, the new proposal is to replace the set neutrality policy known as the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy.

The new policy, titled the "Respectful Learning Environment Policy," asks teachers to be neutral during class discussions of all "controversial issues." It particularly asks of the staff "to affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students regardless" of various factors, one of which being sexual orientation.

But, to many teachers, "the revision was confusing and vague," as reported by Pioneer Press.

Star Tribune reported that an earlier attempt at a new policy was introduced in December, around the time Eric Best, a Minnesota Daily columnist, wrote an article that reported a sixth teen suicide in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. This attempted policy was called the Controversial Topics Curriculum Policy; however, this was treated with criticism by some.

According to Pioneer Press, the previous policy was criticized that it seemed to label lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as controversial. By dropping the word "controversial," helps to point out that "all students are to be affirmed and welcomed," said Rob Mavis, founder of the Anoka-Hennepin Gay Equity team.

Rachel Vahdat told Star Tribune that she fears students will be "bombarded" with gay propaganda if the neutrality policy is repealed. "This is an abuse of children under the camouflage of education."

Others, including Anoka High School senior, Rachel Hawley, thanked the board for the policy changes because it "looks a lot better; it sounds a lot more inclusive," Pioneer Press reported.

A vote on the new policy is scheduled to take place next month.

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