Yesterday Mother Jones came out with a story linking a rash of teen suicides in the 38,000-student Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota to Michele Bachmann, the anti-gay presidential candidate. Nine kids who were bullied — for being gay or for being different — killed themselves in Bachmann's district over the past two years. Bachmann has made no public statements on the issue, but local groups that support her have played a key role in blocking Gay-Straight Alliances on campuses and to retarding anti-bullying measures.
Here's the thing. It's a real stretch to pin this on Bachmann, as virulently homophobic as she and her husband may be. She's been out of high school for a long time, and even if groups she's allied with are a part of the problem, one can assume she hasn't taken her eyes off national politics long enough to really get involved in the local school district. But Bachmann has been a foe of anti-bullying legislation, and at a time when this is an issue of national concern, it's worth going over her stance. From Mother Jones:
In 2006, Bachmann attended a hearing on an anti-bullying bill in the state legislature and voiced her opinion that bullying was simply a fact of life. She told state lawmakers: "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 it mean that what form of behavior will there be — will we be expecting boys to be girls?"
Don't expect Bachmann to comment on the teen and LGBT suicides in her district anytime soon — she's been studiously avoiding mention of her anti-gay stances in public of late. But if you care about the issue, there's plenty of documentation of her previous stance on it.
The Teen Suicide Epidemic in Michele Bachmann's District [Mother Jones]
Fair warning: This is a real bummer of a story to read.