ABOUT THE PROJECT
SYNOPSIS / DESCRIPTION
Anoka-Hennepin, Minnesota’s largest school district, is a microcosm of the US, filled with urban, suburban, and rural populations. In less than two years, nine students there would commit suicide and countless more would try, leading Minnesota State Public Health officials to declare the district a “suicide contagion area.”
The common thread? All were bullied, four for real or perceived sexual orientation. Their deaths followed years of systemic LGBTQ discrimination and the school board’s adoption of a highly controversial policy: that all staff “remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation.”
These events inspired grassroots organizing by a group of pro-LGBTQ parents who fought to eliminate the “neutrality policy.” It also sparked counter-organizing by an anti-LGBTQ Christian evangelical organization that was later declared a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Six students filed a lawsuit against the school district, and the U. S. Departments of Justice and Education launched investigations into civil rights violations of LGBTQ students there. After considerable resistance, Anoka-Hennepin School District agreed to a historic consent decree which gave the Justice Department oversight for five years, overturned the neutrality policy, strengthened the rights of LGBTQ students, and established anti-bullying preventions to make schools safer for all.
GENRE Documentary Feature
DIRECTOR Gorman Bechard
PRODUCER Gorman Bechard, Jan Radder, Colleen McQuaid, Stephen Handwerk
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