New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor – Sarah Peterson (left) holds a sign and rainbow flag with a group Saturday at the corner of Broadway and Center Street in New Ulm. After allegations that New Ulm students targeted an openly gay St. Peter’s student during recent basketball games, more than 125 people protested at the intersection’s corners to show support for the LGBTQ community.

Scott Richards, pastor of Trinity Lutheran and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Gaylord, leads a group of protesters in a call-and-response chant Saturday during a solidarity event for the LGBTQ community in New Ulm. Richards, who came out seven years ago, said it’s easy to feel isolated as an LGBTQ person in rural areas, which is why gatherings like Saturday’s are important.

New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

There is no home for Hate in New Ulm, Casey McMullen said Saturday on the corner of a downtown square.

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She was with more than 125 demonstrators, many wearing rainbow colors and carrying signs, who gathered at Broadway and Center Street to stand with the LGBTQ community.

The show of support, organized by One New Ulm, a community organization chaired by McMullen, came after reports of New Ulm High School students targeting an openly gay St. Peter student at school basketball games.

“That’s why we’re out here, to say that hate has no home here,” McMullen said. “We want to show our solidarity and our love and support for that community here in New Ulm, St. Peter, Mankato, everywhere.”

Alex Bosacker, a student at St. Peter’s, joined his team at the beginning of the winter. His team embraced him, but New Ulm’s group of students had a much different response.

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He recently accused a New Ulm basketball player of repeatedly making anti-gay comments during a game, including the comment “The gay kid is protecting me.” The same player allegedly pinched Bosacker hard throughout the game, enough to leave a bruise.

It came after a game earlier in January when Bosacker heard in a crowd of New Ulm students that he was going to touch one of their players’ waists.

In the wake of Bosacker’s allegations, along with another incident in which New Ulm students harassed the St. Peter’s team bus after a game, New Ulm Superintendent Jeff Bertrang issued an apology.

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New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

“At a boys basketball game last month against St. Peter, a New Ulm player made a hateful comment, a profanity, that was directed toward a St. Peter player,” he said in a district email. “While I cannot comment further on the matter, I can accept that it happened and that the athlete was disciplined. My sincere apologies to the St. Peter’s player and his family. I deeply regret that this happened.”

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New Ulm alumni also recently wrote an open letter in the New Ulm Journal expressing outrage over the incidents. He urged the city and schools to make a “specific and actionable commitment to change.”

No one should have to go through what the St. Peter’s student went through, McMullen said. If any good can come of it, she points out how it underscores the importance of the school district’s continued focus on equity.

As with other school boards in Minnesota, including Mankato, the push for equity initiatives has drawn strong critics.

“Whether you read the local news, follow local social media conversations or attend school board meetings, you see this small but vocal segment of the community struggling to accept and respect those who are different from them,” McMullen said.

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Demonstrators said the events in New Ulm did not necessarily surprise them. LGBTQ intolerance is a problem in New Ulm, said One New Ulm board member Katie Dorschner, and the problem is not limited to New Ulm.

“I think that’s a problem in a lot of communities, especially if we’re talking about rural Minnesota,” she said. “Things are changing and there’s some uneasiness about that.”

McMullen and Dorschner said Saturday’s turnout shows how much the LGBTQ community stands behind them.

New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

“As an openly LGBTQ person in this city, it can be hard to know where you stand with people,” McMullen said. “So I know it’s very powerful to see so many people here showing love and support and solidarity.”

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Brendan Roman of New Ulm waved a pride flag on the corner, saying he was there to help New Ulm become more inclusive. On a nearby corner, Sarah Peterson waved a rainbow peace flag while holding a “Love Not Hate” sign.

Peterson grew up in New Ulm and said she wasn’t sure how many people would come out. More than 100 people showed how important the message is.

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“There’s a lot of hate and prejudice out there right now and I want people to see that there are LGBT people here and there are definitely people who support them,” she said.

She would like to see more resources for LGBTQ youth in New Ulm in response to the incidents. Mankato has a lot more resources, so having New Ulm in more places will represent a positive and real change for students to feel isolated.

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Pastor Scott Richards of Trinity Lutheran and St. Paul Lutheran in Gaylord, who left seven years ago, came to the event Saturday with a rainbow around his neck. He led the group in call-and-response chants on the corner.

He said he wanted to be there as a Christian witness, because there are loud voices using religion to speak out against the acceptance of LGBTQ people.

Knowing how easy it is to feel isolated as LGBTQ people in rural towns, Richards said Saturday’s event showed people that’s not the case.

New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

“Everyone is connected to a queer in some way, shape or form,” he said. “And we have to stand up for diversity and compassion.” Jerin Osterman, 37, lived in New Ulm for 13 years. She has several children who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and wanted to show her support for New Ulm High School students and fellow city residents at the One New Ulm rally held Saturday. Ostermann said she homeschools all her children because she fears harassment and bullying for their sexuality.

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Rallies aren’t an everyday sight in New Ulm, but a recent Saturday afternoon gathering drew more than a hundred people to show support for LGBTQ+ students.

Demonstrators waved rainbow flags. Some held placards reading “Love Always Wins” and others waved at cars while drivers honked their horns from the road.

“I’m really happy to see all the little kids here,” she said. “Because I hope the next generation can stand up for themselves more. I think it’s changing society, and it’s going to help these kids.”

More than a hundred people showed support for the LGBTQ+ community at a rally organized by One New Ulm on Saturday. Center Street in New Ulm and S. Supporters honked their horns from their cars at the Broadway Street intersection while attendees waved pride flags and held signs.

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Ostermann has three children who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. She homeschools them because she says the culture in the New Ulm school district doesn’t welcome gay students.

“They’re not safe right now unless we can change something, and this [incident] just brings up a whole reason why we can’t send them in yet,” she said.

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New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

She is referring to a series of events that occurred during New Ulm High School’s basketball season. The incident came to light in a Star Tribune article, where an openly gay St. Peter basketball player accused a New Ulm player of repeatedly pinching him and making homophobic comments during a game.

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St. Peter’s fans wore rainbow colors in the subsequent game with New Ulm to show their support for their player.

After that game, four New Ulm students allegedly shot the St. Peter team bus home with water gel. The police later cited the girl students as molested.

School officials said the incident is separate from the one involving the St. Peter basketball player. He condemned both situations.

New Ulm Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Bertrang apologized to the St. Peter player and his family for the incident. In an email sent by the district and in a letter to the editor submitted to the New Ulm Journal in March.

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In it, Bertrang wrote: “To the new Ulm community, I say this: We can and should be proud of our school, we will welcome and respect all opposing athletes, and we will hold our students to the highest standards of sportsmanship. We can and must do better. “

He also said New Ulm athletes are disciplined. Bertrang told MPR News the district is working on equity training for staff to meet the needs of diverse students. He said the incidents reported further underscored the need for that training.

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New Ulm Journal Letters To The Editor

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