State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has filed a bill that he says is designed to prevent future tragedies like the suicide of Asher Brown, a gay 13-year-old who took his own life last year in response to bullying at school.
Coleman’s HB 1386, filed today, calls on the state to develop a comprehensive suicide prevention program for middle, junior and high schools. The bill would also ban anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination in public schools.
“This is a heartbreaking public health threat which we need to address,” Coleman said in a press release. “I’m sick of nothing happening. We need to protect our children before they are driven to suicide or become severely and emotionally ill.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that a school is a safe learning environment for all children,” Coleman added. “Our children should focus on their studies, not worry about verbal and physical threats from their peers.
“Too many young lives are being taken because of intimidation and countless more are at risk,” he said. “This tragic loss of life is completely preventable.
“Current policy unjustly continues to punish the victim. We need to change that.”
The bill is similar to one Coleman has filed in every legislative session since 2003.
To read the full text of HB 1386, go here. We’ve posted Coleman’s press release after the jump.
Rep. Coleman Files Legislation to Prevent Emotional Trauma and Suicide Among Youth
Austin–Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) today filed legislation to help prevent emotional trauma and suicide among youth. HB 1386 directs the Department of State Health Services and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to implement a program to 1) recognize students at risk of emotional trauma and /or committing suicide, 2) subsequently intervene effectively, and 3) refer students to mental health services if necessary. This bill is meant to protect children from becoming severely and emotionally ill, and to help stop deaths similar to that of 13 year old Asher Brown who tragically took his life last summer after being repeatedly taunted by his peers.
“This is a heartbreaking public health threat which we need to address,” said Representative Coleman. “I’m sick of nothing happening. We need to protect our children before they are driven to suicide or become severely and emotionally ill.”
This legislation will require public schools to report incidents of harassment annually to the TEA as well as to provide training to district employees regarding the prevention of such incidents.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that a school is a safe learning environment for all children. Our children should focus on their studies, not worry about verbal and physical threats from their peers.”
HB 1386 also prohibits discrimination based on association with a person, and protects the parents of students and whistleblowers who may report incidents of discrimination or harassment. Additionally, it addresses harassment and discrimination by the school district and district employees to students and other employees.
Added Rep. Coleman, “Too many young lives are being taken because of intimidation and countless more are at risk. This tragic loss of life is completely preventable.”
HB 1386 also gives the school districts the ability to transfer the bully, instead of the current policy of transferring the victim.
“Current policy unjustly continues to punish the victim,” concluded Representative Coleman. “We need to change that.”
Representative Coleman has filed similar legislation every Texas Legislative session since 2003. Prior to 2003, Representative Coleman was a staunch supporter of similar legislation by Former State Representative Harryette Ehrhardt.
Representative Coleman is available for comment.