WATCH: Youth First Texas’ ‘You’re Not Alone’ project, a peer-to-peer version of ‘It Gets Better’

When members of Youth First Texas went to Austin in March to lobby for anti-bullying legislation, they did a better job of explaining the importance of such laws than any of the adults who were there. They were able to look senators and representatives in the eye and tell them personal experiences about having been bullied. Some of the youth told lawmakers they had attempted suicide, something that wouldn’t have happened if schools took bullying more seriously.

Walking back from the Capitol to a local church that was hosting lunch, the YFT members had an idea to make videos about their experiences. First, they sent copies to State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who shared them with other members of the Education Committee. But the videos also had another purpose — saving lives. While the “It Gets Better” videos are mostly adults telling teens they’ll get through their bad experiences in high school, YFT’s “You’re Not Alone” videos contain messages from LGBT youth to LGBT youth.

Watch the first set of videos from YFT’s “You’re Not Alone” project after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Joel Burns live today on CNN News Room

Joel Burns

According to Joel Burns’ Facebook page, he’ll be on CNN NewsRoom at 12:15 p.m., CST, (that’s about 15 minutes from now) to talk about local anti-bullying efforts and “the growing national conversation” around bullying.

According to the schedule posted at CNN.com, Joel will be talking with Ali Velshi.

Check your local listings for the right channel.

—  admin

WATCH: Seagoville student endures classroom beatdown — as teacher watches

As the Texas Legislature continues to stall in taking action on the numerous anti-bullying bills introduced this session, this story posted Monday on WFAA.com proves once again that our children really aren’t safe in school — sometimes even when there is a teacher standing right by them.

Michael Milczanowksi

WFAA.com reports that Seagoville High School sophomore Michael Milczanowksi was attacked and beaten up by a fellow student in his geometry class as the teacher, who isn’t identified, stands by and watches without even trying to intervene. At least not physically. Other students videotaped the attack as it happened, and you can watch that video below.

Dallas Independent School District officials have said the incident is being investigated, but the teacher’s union is supporting the teacher. Alliance/AFT representative Rena Honeo told WFAA: “Teachers have intervened in the past. They have been injured. They have not been able to return to work. They have been reprimanded for intervening. So there is a huge question mark as to what’s truly appropriate.”

Meanwhile Michael Milczanowksi has left Seagoville High. The report doesn’t say if he is going to school somewhere else. The report also doesn’t say why the student attacked Michael, who said he had felt threatened at school for some time, and it doesn’t mention bullying, either.

I am not saying this has anything to do with LGBT issues in any way, shape or form. But I think this is obviously about one student being bullied — physically bullied — and about a teacher standing by and letting it happen. If this isn’t proof enough for lawmakers that we need some kind of legislation to protect our children, then I don’t know what it would take.

—  admin

Addressing the problem of school bullying

Bullying in schools is a problem everywhere. And the problem is growing.

Last week, Massachusetts passed a new anti-bullying law.

NewsWest9This week, the NBC Midland affiliate ran a decent story on bullying, but while most bullying targets LGBT students, the Channel 9 story only obliquely referred to them.

“Over time, the sexually charged rumors, name-calling and even vandalism became overwhelming for Kaitlin.”

For the full video, go here.

While all bullying should be addressed, studies show laws that cover bullying in a general way are often ignored by school staff when LGBT youth are victims. Laws need to specifically cover LGBT youth for them to be protected.

In Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports that groups may challenge the new anti-bullying law based on free speech. Apparently, some feel after teaching their children to hate, the kids have a right to practice what they’ve learned.

Anti-bullying legislation has been introduced in the Texas Legislature each session since the early 1990s and in recent years has gotten out of committee, but has not passed. If a current anti-bullying bill authored by Rep. Mark Strama passes in 2011, it would be the first major pro-LGBT legislation to become law in Texas since the hate crimes statute of 2001.

—  David Taffet

New tactic from the right wing

Rep. Matt Windschitl

Rep. Matt Windschitl

Iowa’s right wing is pushing for a vote on same-sex marriage. They’re using a new tactic.

In their decision, the Iowa Supreme Court cited state laws such as the anti-bullying law that includes protections for LGBT students.

So two Republicans in the Iowa House, Jason Schultz and Matt Windschitl, now want to remove protection for LGBT students to pave the way for an anti-same-sex marriage vote. They have filed the Exclude Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Students from Safe Schools Law.

Opponents of equality are showing just how desperate they have become. If other tactics don’t work, file a law that tells bullies to beat up LGBT kids. Simply, incite violence to get their way.

—  David Taffet