June 22, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Gray signs D.C. anti-bullying bill
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Bullying

Mayor Vincent Gray signs the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 on Friday. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill on Friday that will require city agencies that work directly with young people to implement an anti-bullying policy.

“I am absolutely proud to say that today we are taking yet another bold and concrete step towards eradicating bullying in our city,” he said during a ceremony at the Wilson Building. “There is much more work to do, but I can’t think of a more noble or impactful goal than to end bullying of our youth and continue to create environments where our young people learn and thrive in health and safety.”

The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 establishes an anti-bullying task force that will include representatives from D.C. Public Schools, the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Mayor’s Office on GLBT Affairs, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League and other government agencies and community organizations. They will be charged with developing a comprehensive model policy that supporters of the law hope will provide the foundation upon which D.C. government agencies can create their own anti-bullying strategies.

The new law will also protect those who report incidents of bullying from retaliation.

“This is a very, very important piece of legislation,” said D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “Bullying has significant impacts on our young people and it is a barrier to students’ success. We can’t insure that our young people are prepared and they have a world class education that ensures that they’re ready for college or a career if they don’t feel safe, if they don’t feel confident, if they don’t feel able to be themselves because other people are bullying them.”

Office of Human Rights Director Gustavo Velasquez, Police Chief Cathy Lanier, D.C. Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Michael Brown (I-At Large) and Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin were among those who attended the signing ceremony.

“For our city, this is part of our values,” said Wells, who chairs the Council committee that originally approved the bill in April. “This is who we are. This is very important.”

Pending congressional review, D.C. will join 17 other states that have enacted comprehensive anti-bullying laws that include LGBT-specific provisions.

The ceremony took place just days after a video of four upstate New York middle school students bullying a 68-year-old bus monitor went viral on the Internet.

An HRC report earlier this month noted that 51 percent of LGBT youth have been verbally harassed at school. The survey also reported that LGBT students are twice as likely to suffer violence in the classroom than their heterosexual classmates.

“Today really is a landmark day for our city’s youth,” said Griffin, who described the law as the “most robust” anti-bullying measure in the country because it applies to all city agencies that work directly with youth. “Laws can be more than words on a page. They can send a powerful message and today that message rings loud and clear. The fact that we’re standing here today and the mayor will soon sign this bill into law tells every LGBT young person not just in D.C. but around the country that they have value and that they have reason to be hopeful.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

4 Comments
  • Bullying;Empowering Kids With the Gaga Panel. A Solution!
    A Solution for Bullying, Empowering Kids, With The GaGa Committee

    Please pass this along to anyone who could benefit, using email, snail mail, Face book, My space, twitter, & what ever else there is out there.

    Send to teachers, school officials, class presidents, media, town on-line newspapers, Lady GaGa, & all of your friends.

    The only solution to bullying right now is geared toward individually handling it, the following suggestions takes the bullied out of the closet to end their isolation.

    Outline for The Ga Ga Panel
    There should be a rotating ( a week or two) panel of students, one student from each grade/class, forming a group ,that meets every day for a certain amount of time , who listens to the situation , & reviews any evidence from students who are being bullied. There should be one adult, teacher/volunteer that the panel would have access to, if needed. The student panel would then confront the bully & tell them to stop the abusive action. If the bully does not stop, the panel would issue consequences. These consequences would need to be discussed & decided upon before the formation of the panel. Perhaps ‘shunning’ the student, or posting their picture on a school bulletin board. There should be an ‘all school meeting’ introducing the purpose of the panel, during which the school officials, would have the students vote on the consequences. This student meeting would be announcing the fact, to all, that the school officials & the student body will be taking bullying seriously. It should also be stated in this meeting, LOUDLY, that bullies are acting out because of their own insecurities & fears, & that their actions are pathetic & cowardly, so in the end, they too, will benefit from this panel. This ‘all school’ meeting could also put together a ‘constitution’ for the school, with rules such as; no physical aggression, no name calling, etc.
    If, after receiving the consequences, the bully still does not comply, the adult, teacher/volunteer would be called to confront the bully, threatening to go up the chain by calling her/his parents, parents of the bullied, & finally the disciplinarian & or, principle of the school, who would use whatever options they have, to take care of the problem.
    The acting panel should take an oath promising to protect the students, & to take seriously the responsibility before them. The oath will include that the panel shall be considered equal despite their age, sex, religion, race, size, appearance, etc. When a student is on the panel, & eventually, they all will be, they have no past, even if they are a bully or a bullied. As a member of the panel, their slate is wiped clean, the student panel is reborn on the day they start, & they are” born this way”, only to provide justice to all those who stand before them.
    Any student has a right to be heard by the panel, including those who want to speak of someone else they know of, who is being harassed, if not themselves.
    During their tenure, the student panel should wear some kind of an icon, (suggestion… a picture of Lady GaGa, or something she wears like a hat or headband, or nose ring, etc.) so everyone knows the wearer is on the panel.
    Perhaps the panel should have a special lunch table where they get to leave class a little early for lunch so they get served first & have time to begin their discussions.

    Other Suggestions;

    The first 20 or so bullied students, who bravely approach the panel should be rewarded, maybe a day off of school of their own choosing. This could also be discussed & voted on at the all school meeting.
    Those who are bullied should have a choice in explaining their situation; by computer, or approaching a member of the panel, a submission box placed in the school, or by addressing the entire panel when they are in session. The latter being the most encouraged.
    After completing their duty on the GaGa panel, those students may act as a ‘big brother or sister’ to the bullied for a period of time.

    The name of the panel could be, ‘Ghastly Actions Get Annihilated’, or simply, The GaGa panel

    Any, or all of these steps can be refined to fit the needs of the students.

    Bullying;Empowering Kids With the Gaga Panel. A Solution!
    A Solution for Bullying, Empowering Kids, With The GaGa Committee

    Please pass this along to anyone who could benefit, using email, snail mail, Face book, My space, twitter, & what ever else there is out there.

    Send to teachers, school officials, class presidents, media, town on-line newspapers, Lady GaGa, & all of your friends.

    The only solution to bullying right now is geared toward individually handling it, the following suggestions takes the bullied out of the closet to end their isolation.

    Outline for The Ga Ga Panel
    There should be a rotating ( a week or two) panel of students, one student from each grade/class, forming a group ,that meets every day for a certain amount of time , who listens to the situation , & reviews any evidence from students who are being bullied. There should be one adult, teacher/volunteer that the panel would have access to, if needed. The student panel would then confront the bully & tell them to stop the abusive action. If the bully does not stop, the panel would issue consequences. These consequences would need to be discussed & decided upon before the formation of the panel. Perhaps ‘shunning’ the student, or posting their picture on a school bulletin board. There should be an ‘all school meeting’ introducing the purpose of the panel, during which the school officials, would have the students vote on the consequences. This student meeting would be announcing the fact, to all, that the school officials & the student body will be taking bullying seriously. It should also be stated in this meeting, LOUDLY, that bullies are acting out because of their own insecurities & fears, & that their actions are pathetic & cowardly, so in the end, they too, will benefit from this panel. This ‘all school’ meeting could also put together a ‘constitution’ for the school, with rules such as; no physical aggression, no name calling, etc.
    If, after receiving the consequences, the bully still does not comply, the adult, teacher/volunteer would be called to confront the bully, threatening to go up the chain by calling her/his parents, parents of the bullied, & finally the disciplinarian & or, principle of the school, who would use whatever options they have, to take care of the problem.
    The acting panel should take an oath promising to protect the students, & to take seriously the responsibility before them. The oath will include that the panel shall be considered equal despite their age, sex, religion, race, size, appearance, etc. When a student is on the panel, & eventually, they all will be, they have no past, even if they are a bully or a bullied. As a member of the panel, their slate is wiped clean, the student panel is reborn on the day they start, & they are” born this way”, only to provide justice to all those who stand before them.
    Any student has a right to be heard by the panel, including those who want to speak of someone else they know of, who is being harassed, if not themselves.
    During their tenure, the student panel should wear some kind of an icon, (suggestion… a picture of Lady GaGa, or something she wears like a hat or headband, or nose ring, etc.) so everyone knows the wearer is on the panel.
    Perhaps the panel should have a special lunch table where they get to leave class a little early for lunch so they get served first & have time to begin their discussions.

    Other Suggestions;

    The first 20 or so bullied students, who bravely approach the panel should be rewarded, maybe a day off of school of their own choosing. This could also be discussed & voted on at the all school meeting.
    Those who are bullied should have a choice in explaining their situation; by computer, or approaching a member of the panel, a submission box placed in the school, or by addressing the entire panel when they are in session. The latter being the most encouraged.
    After completing their duty on the GaGa panel, those students may act as a ‘big brother or sister’ to the bullied for a period of time.

    The name of the panel could be, ‘Ghastly Actions Get Annihilated’, or simply, The GaGa panel

    Any, or all of these steps can be refined to fit the needs of the students.

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