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Parent group demands ex-gay therapy training in Anoka-Hennepin schools

The leaders of the Parents Action League make their demands.
The leaders of the Parents Action League make their demands.

Gay rights advocates may not have liked the language of the "controversial topics policy" that may replace the Anoka-Hennepin school district's "neutrality policy," but at least there appeared to be movement on the issue.

Now, conservative Christian parents are hoping to move things in just the opposite direction.

At last night's school board meeting, members of the Parents Action League presented a 21-statement resolution to the school board demanding that ex-gay organizations be allowed to give instruction and training within the district, saying, among other things, that "the theme of school safety is being used as a pretext for the legitimization of homosexuality."

The district's current "neutrality policy" states that "Anoka-Hennepin staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation." That policy is the basis of a federal lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Anoka-Hennepin, claiming that it creates a discriminatory environment for gay students.

District officials opened the possibility of replacing that wording with a "controversial topics policy," which would instead state, "The study of controversial topics shall contribute toward helping students develop techniques for examining controversy, be appropriate to maturity and developmental level of students, be of significance related to course content, and presented in an atmosphere free of bias and prejudice."

No one seemed happy with that idea at a reading of the policy last month, with conservative parents arguing for the retention of the "neutral" language and gay rights advocates objecting to the idea that a homosexual identity is "controversial."

Conservative parents went a step further at last night's school board meeting by presenting a list of 10 demands. They center around providing information to students from "pro-family, ex-homosexual and ex-transgender" organizations in schools. PAL wants ex-gay therapy information available on the school district's website, ongoing training for "school nurses, school counselors, social workers, school psychologists, prevention specialists" and others from ex-gay organizations, and to provide students with information about links in sexually transmitted diseases and homosexuality, and how to overcome "sexual disorders."

The group's statement also included some vague legal language about the school's liability should any student suffers "harm" from "negligent instruction" or "false or misleading information" about homosexuality.

Several so-called "ex-gays" also addressed the board, including Janet Boynes, the ex-gay minister with ties to Michele and Marcus Bachmann.

"I am living proof that homosexuals can overcome their tendencies," she told the board, saying that if students were hearing from organizations that "affirm gender identity disorder," they should be exposed to ex-gay theories as well.

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