by Jeremy Leaming
While a large public school district in Minnesota has taken steps, prompted by legal action, to combat discrimination against LGBT students, the U.S. Department of Education has released information, which perhaps not surprisingly, reveals persistent discrimination against black students in public schools nationwide.
Reporting for the Pioneer Press, Sarah Horner details the Anoka-Hennepin school district board’s vote, with one member resigning in protest, to “accept a settlement agreement with [Dylon] Frei and five other former and current district students who had filed two lawsuits over a policy requiring staff to remain neutral when the topic of sexual orientation came up in the classroom.” As Horner notes Frei and the other students had repeatedly faced sexual harassment and gender stereotyping. Frei, Horner reports, told a crown outside the school board offices that his peers had repeatedly called him “fag,” and physically harmed him.
The school board voting 5-1 approved a consent decree that will resolve the students’ lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The decree also resolves a separate complaint lodged in Nov. 2010 by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education.
The consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota includes a number of requirements that Anoka-Hennepin school officials will have to undertake to ensure they comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bar harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
For example the school district, the largest in Minnesota, must retain a consultant to review the district’s policy on harassment, create and implement “a comprehensive plan for preventing and addressing student-on-student sex-based harassment,” and improve “its system for maintaining records of investigation and responding to allegations of harassment.”