A person who engages in an act of bullying, reprisal, retaliation, or false reporting of bullying or permits, condones, or tolerates bullying shall be subject to discipline or other remedial responses for that act in accordance with the school district’s policies and procedures, including the school district’s discipline policy (See MSBA/MASA Model Policy 506)…Is directed at any student or students, including those based on a person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation including gender identity and expression, academic status related to student performance, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic defined in the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). However, prohibited conduct need not be based on any particular characteristic defined in this paragraph or the MHRA.(Emphasis added.) ~Nova Classical Academy Bullying Policy 514 II A, III D3)
Minnesota educators, school administrators and parents have been working for the past several years toward finding the balance between protecting students from bullying while protecting individual First Amendment Rights. The process has caused policy and curriculum changes which have developed into controversies as concerned parents have both supported and opposed the proposed changes involving what students are being taught with regard to gender issues and sexuality in the schools.
This week, a Saint Paul, Minnesota charter school, Nova Classical Academy, made news due to controversy surrounding a five year old boy’s desire to wear a jumper-style uniform instead of pants to school. The boy’s parents say the kindergartner was bullied because of his choices, going on to say: “We’re not yet sure of the person that our son is, he’s in kindergarten,” and “We don’t label him. He’s not anything. He’s our kid, but we know from what he has shown us this far, that we are going to need some protections in place to keep him safe while he’s in public school.”
One concerned parent interviewed by journalist Josh Rosenthal said:
“We’re learning that this is really a political agenda here and it isn’t just about the bullying of a child,” said Paula Rothstein, the parent of two children at Nova Classical Academy.
She attended Tuesday’s meeting, which featured speakers from the Minnesota Family Council. Rothstein says she and other parents feel as though the school already has a policy to address bullying, and they don’t see a need to make more changes.
“If you put that sort of weight on an issue and you say, ‘OK we’re going to talk about this, and some children are this, and he looks like a boy but he’s really a girl,’ well, you know I would have a problem with that,” she said.
Gender Justice, OutFront Minnesota and Transforming Families MN, put out a joint statement saying, they “support inclusive student rights” and object to what they call “this sort of discrimination against children” in support of David and Hannah Edwards and their son.
Nova Classical Academy parents concerned about the policy and curriculum changes being suggested – adopting the SPPS Gender Inclusion Policy, which, according to the Minnesota Family Council, includes “including transgender material in grades as young as Kindergarten, permitting students to wear uniforms of the opposite sex, and caving to demands of the activists.” The parents invited the Minnesota Family Council to conduct a presentation at the school on January 12, 2016, which was well-attended by many of the nearly 400 parents who signed a petition opposing the changes.
Opponents of the concerned parents protested the meeting by standing with signs in the entryway of the school, forcing the attendees to walk through a crowd on their way in and out of the packed meeting.
In 2014, Minnesota passed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act aka “The Anti-Bullying Bill.” Touted by leaders as a law that would protect all students from bullying and help prevent bullying from occurring in schools, the law broadened the bullying reporting definitions to include gender identity, gender expression and other “protected classifications,” as well as requiring schools to provide training on prohibited conduct to students, teachers, all school staff, and volunteers and to investigate and report all bullying instances to the Safety Technical Assistance Center and then to the Minnesota Disciplinary Incident Reporting System which is then sent to a number of agencies, including MARSS (Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System) which feeds into federal databases at the Department of Education, Department of Justice and Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security.
In 2013 Walter Hudson wrote an article for PJMedia titled: Rise of the Thought Police: Bullying Your Children Into Forsaking Their Values, in which he warned parents and concerned educators of the consequences of the (then unpassed) law:
Sold colloquially as an “anti-bullying bill,” the proposed legislation actually institutionalizes bullying, targeting political minorities with suppressive badgering. The bill would repeal existing anti-bullying statutes which have proven effective. It would create an invasive, overbearing, and unfunded new state bureaucracy to impose politically correct values upon students, teachers, parents, staff, and anyone serving in or around the educational system. It would affect both public and private schools. In a state which already has one of the worst achievement gaps between white and black students in the nation, the bill would burden struggling districts with new mandates diverting precious resources away from academics. Teachers and staff will become thought police and value mediators, shifting their disciplinary focus from correcting inappropriate behavior to remediating students’ belief systems. As with any state bureaucracy, reams of new data will be generated and follow students throughout their academic career, if not the rest of their lives.
Alpha News will continue to follow-up on this developing story.