Friday, February 24, 2012

D.C. Council Hears Testimony for Anti-Bullying Act

The Bullying and Intimidation Prevention Act of 2011(Bill 19-011) is a bill that seeks to prohibit both face-to-face and electronic (online) bullying, in District of Columbia public schools, charter schools, libraries, Universities and Department of Parks and Recreation sites. It would also set up bullying prevention programs within these agencies, protecting LGBT students, or students who are perceived to be LGBT, from harassment in schools. Studies have shown that when students feel unsafe or uncomfortable at school their grades may be lower than average, they have higher rates of absence due to fear of being bullied, and have higher rates of depression and thoughts of self-harm.  Nine out of ten LGBT students have been harassed in school, and most incidents go unreported because students feel that nothing will be done to help them.

PFLAG submitted written testimony for the record when thebill was first introduced, stressing the importance of this life-saving bill, and we strongly support the Bill 19-011 in its current form and urge the DC Council to bring it to a vote without delay.

On February 8th the DC Council Committee of the Whole held a hearing for agency performance oversight directed towards DC Public Schools, the Office of the Superintendent of Education, DC Public Charter schools and the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education. Over 80 community leaders and organizations committed to building safer schools testified in support of the legislation, testified at the hearing, and urged Councilmembers to push the bill through without further delay – the legislation was first introduced in 2010 and still awaits a full vote by the Council. Nearly every DC Council Member has co-sponsored the bill and Councilman Muriel Bowser spoke to the effect that as soon as the bill comes back to the council, it will be passed saying, “school has to be safe”.

Take Action: Our LGBT loved ones and students deserve to attend a fear-free environment where they feel safe and secure. If you live in the DC Metro area, please consider submitting your own testimony in support for ensuring that every classroom is safe for all students to learn, grow and thrive. You may submit your testimony by contacting Priscilla McIver at 202-724-8196 or e-mail before Tuesday, March 8, 2012.

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