Gay-hating presidential aspirant Michele Bachmann represents a district of Minnesota which public health officials have labeled a "suicide contagion area," according to a deeply disturbing piece in Mother Jones. Here's why: In the space of two years, nine teenagers from the area have taken their own lives—the most recent one in May—while "many more" have attempted suicide unsuccessfully. Most of them were known or perceived to be LGBT youth.
This rash of suicides began when a seventh-grader named Samantha Johnson, new to the area after her family had moved from North Dakota, had shot herself on Veterans Day 2009 with a hunting rifle. Samantha was a chubby, tomboy-ish girl who played sports, and was teased mercilessly by the other members of her volleyball team. Hers began a wave of similar suicides in the 38,000-student Anoka-Hennepin school district, the largest in Minnesota.
At least four of the suicides involved kids known or at least perceived by their peers to be LGBT. Since January, seven of Fietek's students at Anoka Middle School have been hospitalized for attempting or threatening suicide. [...]
Anoka-Hennepin has a policy on the books known colloquially as "no homo promo," which dates in back to the mid-1990s. Back then, after several emotional school board meetings, the district essentially wiped gay people out of the school health curriculum. There could be no discussion of homosexuality, even with regard to HIV and AIDS, and the school board adopted a formal policy that stated school employees could not teach that homosexuality was a "normal, valid lifestyle."
As for Ms. Bachmann, she has made a grand total of zero comments on the teen suicide epidemic in her own district. None. In fact, she has voted against proposed anti-bullying legislation, making the following, mindbogglingly insensitive statement on the matter at a hearing in 2006:
"I think for all us our experience in public schools is there have always been bullies, always have been, always will be. I just don't know how we're ever going to get to point of zero tolerance and what does it mean?...What will be our definition of bullying? Will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression? ... Will we be expecting boys to be girls?"
Anoka-Hennepin's "no pro homo" policy has been amended slightly in recent years. Teachers and school staff are now instructed to remain "neutral" on the subject of homosexuality if it ever comes up in class. Both policies were championed by the Minnesota Family Council and the Parents Action League, which also lobby to make "reparative therapy" part of the official school curriculum. That's the gay deprogramming technique practiced by Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann, at Bachmann & Associates, his sham of a Christian counseling clinic.
There's more at Mother Jones. Be ready to get very sad, and very angry. [Photo via Getty]