October 16th, 2010
First, watch this video from CNN in Atlanta.
The epidemic of bullying in schools has been close to the top of the news cycle for over a month now. The American attention span, often reduced to 30-second sound bites, remains focused on the heart-wrenching stories of young people and their families from around the country. The youth in these stories have ranged in age from 11 to 19 and they have come from all manor of background and socio-economic status.
What they all share in common is the tragic impact of bullying and a lack of successful intervention by those tasked with ensuring the protection of students in school on a daily basis. Inconsistency in action by school teachers and administration is matched by inconsistency in laws and policies designed to address and prevent bullying in schools.
As of September 2010, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws that addresses discrimination, harassment and/or bullying of students in school based on sexual orientation and gender identity: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
In addition to those states, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin ban discrimination and/or harassment based on sexual orientation (gender identity is not included as a protected category).
A number of additional states have anti-bullying laws that do not enumerate categories of protection, including sexual orientation or gender identity. No doubt these laws were created, in part, to allay the concerns of social conservatives who fight tooth and nail to prevent sexual orientation and gender identity from being included in legislation.
However, as former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the landmark ruling against Colorado’s Amendment 2, “Enumeration is the essential device used to make the duty not to discriminate concrete and to provide guidance for those who must comply.”
In other words, nondiscrimination and anti-bullying laws should absolutely include sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as other categories of protection.
In an earlier post, I wrote about unique opportunities that arise to create legislative and social change, often without some coordinated plan by activists and pressure groups focused on a particular issue. This is one of those opportunities to address bullying and discrimination in schools.
I applaud and honor Masika Bermudez-Carrasquillo, in memory of her son, for appealing directly to President Obama to do something to force schools to better care for bullied students and ensure accountability for those who fail to do so, including the parents of bullies.
Leading up to and post the mid-term election, Congressional leaders and President Obama have a historic opportunity to take leadership on an issue that the overwhelming majority or Americans will support: Protecting our nation’s youth.
There is an opportunity to revisit legislation already languishing in Congress – the Student Nondiscrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) – to see whether their provision adequately address the need to protect students. For example, many Box Turtle Bulletin readers, commenting on a previous post about those laws, called for more explicit provisions that allow parents to take legal recourse against school districts and administrators who fail to protect students.
While the tragic affects of bullying will likely continue, at some point the American consciousness will move on. Our major news outlets will be enraptured by the outcome of the mid-term election and momentum to create change on this issue will diminish.
I also encourage you to contact the leadership at HRC (202.628.4160), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (202.393.5177), and GLSEN (212.727.0135) to voice your hope that they are doing everything they can to seize this moment to protect our nation’s youth.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.