The school board in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin district has voted to end a policy in which teachers had to remain neutral if issues of sexual identity came up in class. The board replaced the policy, blamed for contributing to a school culture that led to the bullying—and eventual suicides—of several gay students, with one that promotes “a respectful learning environment in which teachers facilitate student discussions of contentious topics in a balanced and impartial manner.”
The policy and bullying issues led to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights that began in 2010.
The district’s former neutrality policy was created in 2009 to undo a 1995 directive to teachers that said homosexuality would not be taught as a “normal, valid lifestyle.”
The Respectful Learning Environment Curriculum policy is intended to establish the dignity and self-worth of all students, district officials said. The local teachers’ union agreed with the new policy, but some parents objected, saying it would allow homosexual propaganda into the classroom.
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as District Ends Rule on Teacher Neutrality