Removal of LGBT references makes anti-bullying bills weaker, but more likely to pass

Daniel Williams

DANIEL WILLIAMS | Legislative Queery

Instant Tea reported Monday that the reporting requirement proposed by the “big” anti-bullying bills (HB 224, SB 245) will be amended so that the provision that school districts file annual reports on instances of bullying in enumerated categories will now only require a report — with the specifics to be determined by the Texas Education Commission (TEA).

(HB 224 has been filed in the House, SB 245 in the Senate. The bills are nearly identical. It is common practice to file the same legislation in both the House and the Senate. Doing so allows bills to be considered by both sides simultaneously which can speed the process of a bill becoming a law. Since the Texas Legislature only meets every other year for 140 days speed is crucial in passing any law.)

HB 224 (by Strama, D-Travis County) currently would require districts to specify in their annual reports if instances of bullying were based on the real or perceived race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or disability of the victim. SB 245 (by Davis, D-Fort Worth) requires the same enumerated report but adds gender identity and expression to the list. (Strama filed this same bill last session, also without gender identity and expression, but added it to the list of attributes in committee).

In addition to the reporting requirements both bills would require school staff, administrators, students and volunteers to attend training on how to identity and respond to bullying, would allow bullies to be transferred to different classrooms or campuses than their victims (currently only the victim may be transferred) and would allow administrators to address cyber-bullying under limited conditions.

Neither bill currently contains a provision prohibiting schools from discriminating against teachers or students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

Let’s face it, removing the enumerated list from the reporting requirement will make these good bills less good — there is no getting around that. But (and it’s an extremely ambivalent “but”) the proposed change to these bills dramatically increases the chances of the Legislature doing something to address the issue of bullying this session.

—  admin

Gay Students Report Higher Discrimination on College Campuses

Peacesignvassar

Many LGBT people see higher education as a place to come out, to spread their proverbial wings and explore a wide world without fear.

Unfortunately for many, that's not the case, for a new study from the non-profit Campus Pride shows that 23% of LGBT students, faculty and staff from colleges and universities have reported anti-gay harassment.

Just as worrisome: 33% of LGBT staff, faculty and students have almost left their institution over harassment or a "challenging climate," the survey reports, and "all GLBT students rated their campus environment less positively than did “straight” students." Many Americans, however, won't see this as a matter for national concern.

It is….

The President and his administration have made multiple attempts to highlight the nation's flailing academic status amongst the international community. "For years, we’ve recognized that education is a prerequisite for prosperity," said the President at the National Urban League Conference this summer.

"And yet, we’ve tolerated a status quo where America lags behind other nations. Just last week, we learned that in a single generation, America went from number one to 12th in college completion rates for young adults. Used to be number one, now we’re number 12." Why isn't the general public clamoring for more education reform?

Though the general American may not be impressed by news that 43% of transgender students and 13% of all LGBT fear for their safety on their respective campuses, if our nation's school systems can't accommodate LGBT communities, an ever-growing, ever-important demographic, then those schools are doing our nation a disfavor: a country can't thrive when such a large proportion of the population feels alienated from the education system.

The survey isn't all doom and gloom, however: Campus Pride also pointed to benefits of coming out on campus: "The 'more out' GLBT students reported more active and collaborative learning than their 'straight' and 'less out' peers."

The lesson here: honesty truly is the best policy, even under trying circumstances.

Read the rest of this study at Campus Pride.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright