Minnesota school district affirms students’ right to walk out of LGBT lesson

Liberty Counsel became involved at the request of local parents and teachers who were concerned about the upcoming activity, describing it as "one-sided LGBT political indoctrination."

The lesson, called “LGBTQIA+ History and Culture,” is scheduled to be taught to high schoolers during the first week of April. (Shutterstock)

A 40-page demand letter from Liberty Counsel, a national Christian advocacy organization, persuaded a Minnesota school system to acknowledge the rights of teachers, parents, and high school students to opt out of a lesson celebrating and honoring the LGBT lifestyle.

The lesson, called “LGBTQIA+ History and Culture,” is scheduled to be taught to high schoolers during the first week of April.

Liberty Counsel became involved at the request of local parents and teachers who were concerned about the upcoming activity, describing it as “one-sided LGBT political indoctrination.”

A group of teachers said that they objected to teaching the lesson on religious grounds and feared retaliation for refusing to do so.

Liberty Counsel analysts reviewed the LGBT lesson and found that it proclaims to students multiple controversial, political LGBT positions and opinions as truth. They said that some of the lesson’s questions violate the teens’ privacy, instill confusion, unconstitutionally compel speech, and serve as a “call to political action.”

Attorneys for Liberty Counsel wrote in the demand letter (pdf), a device used by lawyers to achieve their purpose without litigation, “Government is not permitted to establish a government orthodoxy on matters of sexuality and identity.”

The district’s reaction

In response to the demand letter, Osseo Area Schools, the fifth largest school district in Minnesota, announced on March 28, 2024, that “students themselves may choose to leave prior to or during the lesson.” An alternative class centering on college and career readiness will be available for them to attend instead.

The district stated that the request by Liberty Counsel for accommodation for teachers who decline to teach the material based on sincerely held religious beliefs “has been approved and will be provided.”

According to the announcement, parents and caregivers will continue to be allowed to sign up for an appointment to physically visit the school to review the LGBT “learning materials” and, if they so desire, opt their children out of the class by filling out a form.

In their demand letter, Liberty Counsel attorneys took issue with the physical visit requirement in the digital age and questioned whether the Osseo District “was trying to prevent as many parents as possible from exercising a meaningful review of the curriculum.”

Purpose and content of the lesson

According to a March 8 bulletin from the district, the purpose of the main 40-minute lesson is to help students “gain a deeper understanding of LGBTQIA+ histories and identities.”

The lesson is designed to instill in students an appreciation for “the importance of using correct pronouns and respecting diverse identities.”

After the class, students will help create “a brave space that is respectful of all members of our community,” the bulletin said.

A “brave space” differs from a “safe space,” in that it is designed to manage conflict among equals rather than avoid it, with an emphasis on mutual respect.

On June 21, 2022, the Osseo Area Schools Board of Education laid the foundation for the annual lesson by formally resolving to “acknowledge the value of the lives of our trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, two-spirit, asexual, nonbinary, and gender-expansive scholars and staff.”

According to the district administration, 2.7 percent of the school system’s 20,609 students fall into at least one of the 10 categories mentioned above.

The resolution recognizes the need to observe Pride Month and to “value the student’s gender identity and gender expression” in an inclusive learning environment in which “all students feel safe and supported.”

The resolution noted that 52 percent of LGBTQ youth enrolled in its middle schools and high schools “reported being bullied either in person or electronically in the past year.”

The school board resolved to “eliminate transphobia and homophobia” of all forms. Toward that end, the board promised to continue its support for such student-led clubs as the Gender Sexuality Alliance and the Queer Straight Alliance.

The board resolved to establish an “LGBTQIA+ employee affinity group,” along with a “school/parent/caregiver/ally advisory group.”

A promise was also made to “Ensure that all facility design standards include increased privacy and greater student choice in restrooms and locker rooms.”

The resolution stated that Osseo Schools would establish an entire month, sometime before Pride Month each year, “to observe LGBTQIA+ History and Culture Month,” because “it is essential for our education system to teach the experiences, honor the history, and highlight the contributions of transgender, gender expansive, and non-binary people.”

The Osseo Schools Board of Education also committed to raising the “Progress Pride Flag” at all district buildings and in the board room on June 1 every year. It also invited the entire community to do the same as “a symbol of support to our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and their families.”

According to its website, Liberty Counsel is a national, nonprofit, litigation, education, and public policy organization dedicated to restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the family.

This article was originally published at The Epoch Times


Steven Kovac | The Epoch Times