Below are the remarks made by Minnesota NOW member Laurie Olmon at the latest meeting of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board. The board has been in the news lately for refusing to toughen sanctions against bullying of LGBT youth and for its ban on discussing issues of sexual orientation on campus–this despite the suicides of three district LGBT students in 2010. Olmon is a parent of a child who attended Anoka-Hennepin schools and is a member of the Nowthen City Council.
“From one elected official to another, I hope you will consider this an opportunity to learn about student oppression, the effects it has on our children and what we as community leaders must to do to create a supportive culture for our youth. I was intimidated and harassed as a student in the Cambridge Isanti School District because of my epilepsy. I know what it’s like to dread going to school, hiding between classes and desperately needing to disappear altogether. I am now a parent, our son attended Anoka High School, my husband and I chose Anoka area schools because of the good programs and education he would receive. We are deeply disappointed by the discrimination of our communities’ children and angered by A-H School District for allowing it to continue.
As a community leader, an elected official, a parent and MN NOW member I cannot remain neutral on this. This oppression, known as bullying, is the same as adult stalking, harassment, mental and physical abuse and there are laws protecting adults from that kind of abuse. The current gag policy regarding a student’s welfare is stagnating and bias. It does not reward good behavior and, worse yet, inadvertently permits bad behavior. Neighboring school districts like Forest Lake are creating supportive learning conditions and policies for their students and staff. Their school boards are not allowing themselves to be held hostage by outside sources, but instead, have put aside their differences on behalf of their youth. I call on all community leaders in the Anoka Hennepin School District to stand with us in creating a safe, harassment free, educational setting for all.”
“A right delayed is a right denied” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.