Wednesday, July 17th, 2024 Church Directory
Protesters on the road.
ATTORNEY BETSY ARMSTRONG (L), Attorney Chris Klippen and CPL Chairman Julie Quist gave statements during a presentation to the Becker School Board Monday at the high school. Dozens of LGBTQ students protested the meeting, holding a demonstration outside the school during the day, then demonstrating before, during and after the meeting Monday (below). (Patriot Photos by Bill Morgan).
Chris Klippen
Julie Quist
The walkout this week included a demonstration along Sherburne Ave. near the school.
Chants were spewed and signs displayed as students entered the auditorium.
Many signs had significant messages such as this one that read, "Men of quality don't fear equality."

LGBTQ students mount protest

The Becker School Board held a special meeting Monday evening to listen to a presentation from two former Becker School Board Members and a representative from the Child Protection League (CPL) in regards to concerns over the treatment of LGBTQ students at Becker Schools.

The meeting was held in the PAC in expectation of a large audience.

Students and teachers associated with the LGBTQ movement at Becker Schools (GSA - Gender and Sexuality Alliance) held two protests — one at 2 p.m. and one right before the 6 p.m. meeting — in which they carried signs and chanted, “No two sides to our pride.” 

They also marched the parking lot and lined up along Sherburne Ave. to rally support for their cause.

Last year at about this time, students from across the State of Minnesota held a walk-out to show solidarity with Black communities following the death of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center. That protest was organized by Minnesota Teen Activists, a statewide organization.

Last August, the LGBTQ advocacy organization, OutFront Minnesota, made a presentation to the Becker School Board to address students’ concerns. Following that meeting, two community members attended a March board meeting and spoke during public comment, expressing an interest in the school board having a presentation in response to OutFront’s presentation.

At least two community members responded to the school board a few months ago expressing concern for a presentation with a viewpoint different from OutFront Minnesota’s.

The school board consented to the original request and on Monday, they made arrangements to hear from “the other side” of the cause —  from CPL — an organization the LGBTQ community deems an anti-LGBTQ group. 

GSA advisor and Becker Teacher, Dr. Heather Abrahamson said she “doesn’t understand how one could think there’s another side to human rights, but they claim there is.”

Betsy Armstrong, an attorney and former Becker School Board Member was the first speaker. Before she took the podium, the LGBTQ students turned away from the stage with their backs to the school board members and the speakers. 

She was allowed to speak for a little under an hour following some downtime associated with audio problems as well as disruptions from the protesters. Many of the GSA students failed to abide by the “do not interrupt the speakers” request as well as  “no handheld or posting of signs allowed in the room.”

Joining the students from the LGBTQ community were Abrahamson, Joe Rand, Pastor Yolanda Denson-Byers of Faith Lutheran Church and English Teacher Arnold Changamire and Teacher Lisa Sackett, to name a few. Some of the signs carried into the auditorium featured slogans such as, “Men of quality don’t fear equality”, “We can’t be erased” and “I’d choose hell over homophobic heaven.”

Armstrong spoke of gender dysphoria, suicide, the transgender movement and the increase in gender clinics across America. She said she and her other presenters conducted diligent research into the evening’s topic and the purpose was to bring balance to the information to meet the needs of the entire student body.

Armstrong also referenced a Bible quote that says God created two sexes — male and female — and said people who follow religious teachings are Constitutionally protected and their opinions ought to be given equal consideration. Murmurs and giggles came from the LGBTQ body when the slide appeared on screen and one student yelled out, “God is gay” to the cheers of others.

The next speaker was Attorney Chris Klippen, who also is a former Becker School Board member and a resident in the area.

Klippen spoke of the legal aspects the board will face as the challenges of protecting classes grows. He spoke of the rights of the First Amendment and reminded the board that “human rights are not reserved just for special classes.”

He said the First Amendment issues include  prohibiting compelled speech (use of pronouns) and prohibiting viewpoint discrimination, which include acceptance and affirmation.

He talked about the protected class and “who’s in? and who’s out?” Some questions he presented to the board included, “when is a student ‘transitioned enough?’”, “self-identified” or “objective criteria” and finally, “who decides?”

The final presenter was  Julie Quist, board chairman of the CPL. She began her presentation by identifying certain books that are being incorporated into schools though she pointed out, “it doesn’t mean all or any of these books are part of the Becker curriculum.”

The books she identified she says violate the beliefs and norms of the community by accepting different gender identities.

Quist confirmed several books such as, “My Princess Boy “(for ages 3-8), “I am Jazz” ( for children aged 4-8), the “Gender Unicorn” (for preschoolers) and “It’s Perfectly Normal” (for kids aged 10 on up) were part of several school’s curriculum. In mid-sentence, Quist was stopped from continuing her presentation and after a few awkward moments of silence, members of the audience began dispersing and board members gathered their belongings and left the stage.

District administrators declined to comment on the Child Protection League’s visit but Swanson read a statement ahead of Monday’s meeting acknowledging concern over the speakers.

“As a school board, we recognize that we are learners, just like the students we serve. Therefore, a critical part of our jobs as board members is to listen and engage,” he said. “We see that it is essential for us as individual board members and as a collective to engage with a variety of perspectives and voices to ensure a complete picture.”

Public comment was not allowed at the special meeting, but Swanson told attendees they could sign up to speak at the next regularly scheduled meeting in April.