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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Superintendent Bill Green on Welcoming Schools

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Welcoming Schools guide that Minneapolis Public Schools is considering as a pilot program for some of our schools.

Minneapolis Public Schools is committed to creating an open, accepting and welcoming atmosphere in our schools. Only in environments free of bullying can any real learning take place, and we are committed to providing the best learning atmospheres possible for our students. No forms of bullying – whether based on race, ethnicity, culture, physical challenges, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or other beliefs – will be tolerated in our schools.

We understand that there is a wide range of viewpoints regarding the Welcoming Schools guide.

Please be aware that a decision has not yet been reached by our Curriculum and Instruction Department regarding the form this program may take or the way in which it may be used. In response to concerns raised by some of our parents, a review committee has been formed made up of parents and community members, teachers and district staff to evaluate this material.

A decision on whether or not to proceed with pilot programs using Welcoming Schools material will be made by this committee based on: issues such as age appropriateness; and whether some, all, or any of the material in this guide meets the strict academic standards our district maintains for all types of educational material.

Also, be aware that use of the Welcoming Schools material is not an “all-or-nothing” proposition. That is to say, the committee may decide to reject all of the material, or to include all of it, or to select some parts of the Welcoming Schools material and leave out other parts. Portions of this material may also be combined with other material currently used.

We expect the committee to make its final recommendation within the next several weeks. Currently, the District uses a variety of anti-bullying and social-skills materials to meet the individual needs of each site. Whatever form our future efforts take, we are committed to creating welcoming schools for every family and addressing anti-gay name calling and teasing. We will foster respect for all families.

Thank you for your time and concern regarding this program. We truly appreciate your input and value your continued active participation in the activities of our district and our schools.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bill Green
Superintendent, Minneapolis Public Schools


OutFront Minnesota finally sends out an action alert the day of the Curriculum and Instruction Meeting which was not open to the public.


Support Welcoming Schools Curriculum
The Welcoming Schools curriculum proposed as a pilot project in three Minneapolis schools offers a positive step toward creating a welcoming environment for all students and alleviating the problem of anti-GLBT bullying.

Readmore on Welcoming Schools and the controversy surrounding it.

Read more about the curriculum from its sponsor, the Human Rights Campaign.

Tonight, May 28th, a school district committee will further discuss this curriculum and hear from both opponents and supporters (note: this is not a public meeting). The committee will make a recommendation to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Contact Chief Academic Officer Bernadeia Johnson at Bernadeia.Johnson@mpls.k12.mn.us or call (612) 668-0640 or (612) 668-0145 to convey your support of anti-bullying and diversity curriculum.

OutFront Minnesota supports efforts in our schools to create inclusive learning environments and address bullying. We know from our years in working with students, faculty, and staff that bullying is a regular occurrence. Studies show that students who are bullied are more likely to drop out of school and suffer from depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Efforts to create inclusive environments are a positive approach to the issue.

OutFront Minnesota is a member of the Minnesota School OUTreach Coalition which works statewide to promote inclusive school environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. Read more about the coalition.

Visit our School Resources page.


The Minnesota Family Council wants to totally cancel Welcoming Schools. They don't want any intervention into preventing the bullying of kids - when the bullying is gay-baiting.

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