The teachers union in Minnesota’s largest school district urged its school board Monday night to drop a proposed policy on handling controversial topics in the classroom, saying educators should be trusted to mediate student discussions about sexual orientation and other issues.

The board proposed the change to replace a current policy that requires teachers to remain neutral when the topic of human sexuality comes up during class. Some people believe the current policy, which is being challenged by two lawsuits, fosters bullying of gay students.

The policy came under fire after six students in the district committed suicide in less than two years. The district in the northern Twin Cities suburbs has about 38,500 students and 2,800 teachers.

Julie Blaha, president of the Anoka-Hennepin district’s local of the Education Minnesota union, told the board that the union supports dropping the current policy. She called the discussion “a good step” toward improving the climate for discussing contentious issues.

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