April 5, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Council prepares to vote on bullying bill

District of Columbia youth advocates rally against bullying. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

An anti-bullying bill stalled in a D.C. City Council committee since January 2011 is scheduled to come up for a committee vote on April 20, according to the office of Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6).

Charles Allen, Wells’ chief of staff, said Wells’ office, with input from an ad hoc group of supporters of the bill, has completed drafting several amendments to resolve the main impediment causing the delay — an initial inability to identify ways to pay for implementing the bill or to lower the costs of its provisions.

“The latest draft of the anti-bullying bill has finished a review by the Council’s General Counsel for legal sufficiency with the new language and we’re now looking to move forward,” Allen said.

The Bullying and Intimidation Prevention Act, as introduced last year, would require D.C. public and charter schools, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the D.C. public library system, and the University of the District of Columbia to adopt policies “prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying” at their respective facilities.

Allen said the Committee on Libraries, Parks, Recreation, and Planning, which Wells chairs, was expected to hold a markup session later this month to vote to approve the proposed changes.

“At that time, we expect that we’ll have the final fiscal impact analysis complete by the CFO so that everything can move forward he said,” referring to the city’s chief financial officer. “We’re hopeful that this means things will move quickly from here on out and we’ll have the revised bill — incorporating many of the recommendations from the advocacy community — before the full Council shortly.”

LGBT activists have said the bill is needed to protect LGBT youth from bullying and harassment in schools, parks and other public places at a time of widespread reports of anti-LGBT bulling and high rates of LGBT teen suicide.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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