Minnesota LGBT youth group barred from Halloween parade

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A screenshot from anokahalloween.com.

An LGBT youth group in Anoka, Minn., has been barred from participating in an upcoming Halloween parade.

Justin’s Gift was told there isn’t enough room for them in the Oct. 27 parade, according to a report from Minnesota Public Radio.

The group, named in memory of a bullied youth who took his life, was informed via letter from the parade chair, who identified herself only as “Liz.” She wrote, “At this time we are unable to accept your application for the parade. We have reached our maximum for walking units.”

The youth group posted a notice to members on its website that read, “We regret to inform you that our application to participate in the Anoka Halloween Parade, as our favorite fairy tale characters, was denied and we are not being allowed to participate. They stated that there were too many people already walking in the parade. We know you were looking forward to this opportunity, but we encourage you to attend our Halloween Dance which will be a great night!”

The local chamber of commerce's telephone number was on the letter as a contact for the parade, considered one of the most popular events in Anoka, which bills itself the “Halloween Capital of the World" – even trademarked that title.

But if “Anoka” sounds familiar, it may not be because of its association with Halloween.

Anoka came under federal scrutiny after a series of suicides were said to be tied to an anti-gay policy of the Anoka-Hennepin School District and repeated harassment of LGBT youth.

National civil rights groups sued over the policy and the U.S. Education and Justice departments investigated a formal complaint.

In February, the policy was replaced.

And in March, the district and the U.S. government announced a tentative settlement of the harassment complaint.

The settlement requires the district to:

• Retain an expert consultant in the area of sex-based harassment to review the district’s policies and procedures concerning harassment.

• Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for preventing and addressing student-on-student sex-based harassment at the middle and high schools.

• Enhance and improve its training of faculty, staff and students on sex-based harassment.

• Hire or appoint a Title IX coordinator to ensure proper implementation of the district’s sex-based harassment policies and procedures and district compliance with Title IX.

• Retain an expert consultant in the area of mental health to address the needs of students who are victims of harassment.

• Provide for other opportunities for student involvement and input into the district’s ongoing anti-harassment efforts.

• Improve its system for maintaining records of investigations and responding to allegations of harassment.

• Conduct ongoing monitoring and evaluations of its anti-harassment efforts.

• Submit annual compliance reports to the Justice and Education departments.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R, one of Congress' most stridently anti-gay members, represents Anoka.

She is facing a tough re-election fight in Nov. 6.

Also on the ballot in Minnnesota is a proposal to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which already is not legal.