Texas House tentatively OKs anti-bullying bill

Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington

An anti-bullying bill that’s become the top priority for Equality Texas in this year’s legislative session received tentative approval from the Texas House tonight, in a 102-34 vote.

HB 1942, by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, doesn’t provide specific protections for LGBT youth. However, experts say the bill represents the last, best chance for the Legislature to crack down on bullying this year.

From the Texas Tribune:

The bill lays out a definition of bullying and calls on school districts to adopt procedures that prohibit it, make students aware of their options for seeking assistance, protect “whistle-blowers,” establish procedures for notifying parents and guardians about incidents of bullying, and set out counseling options for both the victim and the bully. The bill also gives authority to a school board to transfer a bully — as opposed to a victim — to a different classroom and different school, if necessary.

Equality Texas has issued action alerts over the last few days calling on people to contact their state representative and urge them to support the bill. The bill must be voted on once more by the House before moving to the Senate, which could happen Wednesday.

—  John Wright

Obamas open conference on bullying at White House

President and Mrs. Obama at White House anti-bully conference

President and Mrs. Obama welcomed educators, parents and students to the White House to discuss bullying this morning. The First Lady made the opening remarks followed by the President.

MRS. OBAMA: Good morning.  Thank you. (Applause.) Everyone, please.  Good morning, and welcome to the White House.

I want to thank all of you for joining us here today to discuss an issue of great concern to me and to Barack, not just as President and as First Lady, but as a mom and a dad. And that is the problem of bullying in our schools and in our communities.

As parents, this issue really hits home for us.  As parents, it breaks our hearts to think that any child feels afraid every day in the classroom, or on the playground, or even online.  It breaks our hearts to think about any parent losing a child to bullying, or just wondering whether their kids will be safe when they leave for school in the morning.

—  David Taffet

Coleman introduces ‘Asher’s Law’

Asher Brown, left, and Rep. Garnet Coleman

Today as LGBT citizens from around the state converged on Austin to lobby lawmakers on LGBT issues, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Democrat from Houston, introduced “Asher’s Law,” a bill that would “help protect our children before they are terrorized and traumatized both physically and mentally,” according to a press release from Coleman’s office.

Before this session of the Texas Legislature even began, Coleman had prefiled HB 1386. Asher’s Law — HB 2343 — is identical to that earlier legislation except that Coleman renamed it in honor of Asher Brown, a gay 13-year-old from Houston who committed suicide last year after enduring relentless bullying from his classmates and peers.

Coleman said that he renamed the legislation with the permission of Asher’s parents, Amy and David Truong. Coleman said, “The Truongs are acting with grace and courage. They are allowing a tremendous personal tragedy be a catalyst for change in state statute. We should honor them.”

Coleman said that Asher’s Law, if passed, would direct the Department of State Health Services and the Texas Education Agency to implement a program to recognize students at risk of emtoional trauma or committing suicide, intervene effectively and refer students to mental health services if necessary. The bill would require school districts to report incidents of harassment and bullying to the TEA annually and to train district employees on preventing bullying and harassment. It also addresses harassment and discrimination by school district employees toward students and other employees.

In addition, Asher’s Law gives school districts the option of transferring a bully, instead of current practice which is to transfer the student being bullied.

Coleman has filed similar bills in every legislative session since 2003. Prior to that year, he supported similar bills filed in each session by then state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, a Dallas Democrat.

—  admin

WATCH: Marble Falls football players won’t be prosecuted for anti-gay text messages

KXAN reports that six teens who sent threatening text messages laced with gay slurs to an opposing quarterback won’t be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges of telephone harassment. An attorney for the six teens says they’ve each completed 30 hours of community service, attended a cyber bully seminar and wrote letters of apology to the victim. Fair punishment? Maybe they should also be kicked off the football team and required to join the Glee club.

—  John Wright

Super anti-bullying rally set

Long before the spate of bullying-related suicides that made headlines last fall, an organization called The Bully Suicide Project was working to shed light on the issue.

Now, the program hopes to capitalize on the excitement surrounding Super Bowl XLV to make that light even brighter.

Bully Suicide Project co-founder Dr. Audrey Newsome is working with the city of Dallas and the Dallas All Sports Association to stage what Newsome described as “the first major anti-bullying rally in Dallas.”

The “Super Day of Service, Super Day of Hope” rally will be held Friday, Feb. 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall Plaza.

That is the Friday before Super Bowl XLV will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and Newsome said organizers are hoping to use the excitement surrounding the NFL championship game to draw attention — and participants — to the rally.

“We already have 28 schools and four professional athletes that have confirmed they are participating in the rally,” in addition to state Rep. Eric Johnson, Newsome said, and more are confirming their participation daily.

Newsome said the two professional athletes whose names she can release at this time are Kansas City Chiefs safety Reshard Langford and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver David Tyree.

“We really wanted to get some of the professional athletes to participate in this because most of them have really been silent on the issue of bullying so far,” Newsome said. “We want to get people out there to think about this issue, and what better way to do that than to use the excitement of the Super Bowl.”

Founded in 2009 by Newsome and Beaux Wellborn as a joint project of Campus Harmony and Youth First Texas, the Bully Suicide Project aims to combat bullying of all kinds and to offer support to those who were being bullied.

Bully Suicide Project started with the release in December 2009 of a series of public service announcements with photos by Tracy Nanthavongsa that featured people of all ages making their own statement about bullying and how it affected them. (See photos from the PSAs only at DallasVoice.com)

A month or so later, in January 2010, Bully Suicide Project released a video PSA on YouTube and organizers began working with local schools to provide education and awareness on bullying and on creating safe spaces for those targeted by bullies.

Last August, Bully Suicide Project launched its fall awareness campaign, again featuring photos by Nanthavongsa and special make-up by Melissa Whitaker.

The theme for the fall campaign was “Real Students With Real Stats,” and each model was a high school or middle school student in North Texas that has survived bullying. The photos were graphic, intended to drive home the real life effects of bullying by showing the physical signs.

—Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Another gay teen victim of bullying?

Lance Lundsten, taken from his Facebook page

Friends of gay teen Lance Lundsten of Miltona, Minn., are saying this week that they believe anti-gay bullying played a role in the 18-year-old’s suicide over the weekend, according to KSAX-TV‘s website.

Officials with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed that they responded to an emergency call at Lundsten’s residence about 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, and that Lance Lundsten was then transported to Douglas County Hospital, where he later died. Sheriff’s department officials also confirmed that they believe the young man’s death was a suicide.

Lundsten’s friends at Jefferson High School have created a Facebook memorial page for the teen, and several people posting on the page have said that he was bullied because of his sexual orientation, and that they believe the bullying played a role in his suicide.

Another Jefferson High School student created a separate Facebook page — The Jefferson Anti-Bully Coalition — following Lundsten’s death. That page includes the following statement under the “Info” tab: “Here to stand up for everyone who needs defending. The school’s staff isn’t protecting us, it’s up to the students to help each other.”

The teen’s own Facebook page is here.

—  admin

Carrie Goldman Wouldn’t Let A Bunch Of Boys Bully Daughter Katie Into Abandoning Her Love of Star Wars

Crossing normative gender lines isn't merely the territory of little boys: little girls enjoy screwing with society too! Seven-year-old Katie Goldman, a first-grader in Evanston, Illinois, wears her love for Star Wars on her sleeve. And the water bottle and backpack she took to school every day, selected at Target during back-to-school shopping. All of which meant the boys in her class would tease and torment her for liking a film franchise that, apparently, is the exclusive property of male twerps. So when it all became too much for Katie, she told her mom Carrie she wanted to bring a pink water bottle to school from now on. Oh hell no: Carrie wasn't having it.

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Out dance artist Brian Kent releases new video for ‘I’ll Find a Way’

I have to admit I didn’t know who Brian Kent was until today’s email. Very little digging showed me that this guy’s been making dance music for the past five years with singles and remixes here and there with a full-length release, Breathe Life, in 2008. He told Popnography earlier this year, that his newest single, “I’ll Find a Way,” is a tribute to his grandmother.

The new single is called “I’ll Find a Way” and is dedicated to his 89-year-old grandmother who recently found herself facing breast cancer. “I was inspired by her confidence and I was just amazed that she just kept finding a way to get through everyday. In this day and age whether it’s cancer, relationships, money…everyone is just trying to find a way and move forward,” Kent says.

The video for the song was just released yesterday. “Way” might be a tad too positive affirmation for some, but it is catchy and I did like the video. It reminded me somewhat of both the NOH8 and Bully Suicide Project campaigns and says a whole lot in the span of three minutes and some change. And how can you go wrong when men and women end up topless by the end?

—  Rich Lopez

Must read column: ‘The Bully Pulpit’ by Mike Signorile

This is a very important and insightful column from Mike. Yes, the situation is getting better for LGBT adults, but not kids. The haters are, directly and indirectly inflicting pain and suffering on kids:

Breaking every nasty stereotype perpetuated by bigots, the kids of gay parents are indeed all right. The irony lies in the fact that it’s the children of straight parents who are very much in a full-blown crisis, be they gay and victims of bullying or the perpetrators of bullying themselves. It’s hard to know if gay teen suicides are on the rise or if media reports—and the use of the Internet to get news out—have focused more attention on them. But one thing is certain: They’re happening at an unacceptable rate.

Syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, who started the It Gets Better Project on YouTube in response to the suicides, believes that despite the gains of the gay equality movement and the coming out of celebrities here and there, life is worse today for LGBT teens than it was 20 years ago, particularly for those living far from urban areas. While the gay political movement has made dramatic strides, he says, most of those advances have been for adults in big cities. And, at the same time, the religious right has come full force out of its own closet—condemning homosexuality and pushing “ex-gay” therapy. In suburban and rural areas, preachers attack gays, ugly campaigns have been waged to bar gays from marrying, and politicians rail that gays shouldn’t be teaching in schools.

Savage is on to something: As we have moved ahead with a civil rights movement for LGBT adults—marriage, employment nondiscrimination laws, adoption and gay parenting—the organized political movement has largely ignored the backlash our success has triggered and, more significantly, ignored how that backlash hurts gay youths. Yes, there are excellent groups focused on these issues, such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. But many gay adults, unless they have children themselves, are far removed from these issues and often see fighting discrimination in their own lives as more important. It’s true, of course, that progress for LGBT adults helps everyone in the long run. If LGBT people had full civil rights—equal marriage rights and federal constitutional protections against discrimination—homophobia would diminish in society and young people would grow up in a better world. Surely that’s a common goal of all of those fighting for marriage equality and an end to discrimination. But in a world of instant gratification we sometimes forget that full equality is going to be a long time off. And the hate will only get worse.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

How Can The Cast Of A-List: New York Say ‘It Gets Better’ When They Bully Other Gays?

Well isn't MickeyRants the eloquent youngster! If you happened to tune in to last night's episode of A-List: New York, you'll know exactly what he's talking about: The cast "presents a poor image to gay youth," but on YouTube they're "trying to promote anti-gay bullying." A half dozen queens manage to escape childhood without killing themselves because of classmate torment, only to turn into sniping gay adults who call each other fat, talk shit behind each other's back, and force an unrealistic idea of beauty and status upon other gays. "When you grow up, you little gay depressed teenagers, you can deal with people like me. I'll judge you, don't worry. You don't have to have the homophobes judge you, we will." Maybe Ronnie Kroell was on to something. Or maybe LOGO's gays are just as guilty as MTV's straights in exploiting the It Gets Better campaign.

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