Nine teenagers have taken their lives in Rep. Michele Bachmann's Minnesota district over the past two years, many of them after being bullied for being homosexual.
Critics of the Republican congresswoman say Bachmann’s refusal to support anti-bullying state legislation in 2006 and a recent pledge she signed stating that homosexuality is a choice may have contributed to the crisis in her district.
“I feel if I hadn't moved to this district my daughter wouldn't have died,” a mother of a seventh-grade girl who took her life told Mother Jones, who published an investigative piece yesterday about the “the teen suicide epidemic” in Bachmann’s district.
State officials have designated the district a “suicide contagion area,” and the Justice Department and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights are both investigating how anti-gay bullying may have played a role in the spike in suicide rates.
Bachmann’s office has yet to comment.
Until it does, critics are highlighting prior quotes of Bachmann’s and actions of her supporters, according to Slate.
In 2006, Bachmann told the Minnesota state legislature that passing an anti-bullying bill would be a waste of time.
I think for all of 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 the point of zero tolerance. ... What does it mean. ... Will we be expecting boys to be girls?
Critics also point to conservative religious groups who support Bachmann's presidential campaign, including the Minnesota Family Council and the Parents Action League, who lobbied successfully in the past for local policies that stifle discussion or education of LGBT issues.