WATCH: Joel Burns on new bullying law

Almost two years after a viral speech made him an instant celebrity, gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns is enjoying another round of TV appearances this week to discuss the state’s new anti-bullying law.

Burns has been vocal about his personal experience with bullying when he was teen at Crowley High School and about the need for bullying legislation. He was on WFAA last week and KTVT this morning to discuss House Bill 1492, which the Texas Legislature passed last year. It went into effect Sept. 1 of this year.

During today’s interview, Burns talked about being beaten up his high school gym as a freshman at 13 and his speech before City Council almost two years ago.

“And I realized that that is a lifelong impact,” he said about bullying. “It’s something you carry with you for the rest of your life.”

Burns said he is “very proud” of the new bill, which he lobbied for in Austin, but he called it a baseline and encouraged parents to contact their school boards to help add on to the bill’s requirements.

The bill does not include LGBT protections, but both Dallas and Fort Worth ISD have included LGBT protections in their policies.

Burns will be back on KTVT at 4 p.m. today.

Watch the videos below.

—  Dallasvoice

Investigation into allegations against FWISD teacher expected to conclude today or Thursday

Fort Worth Independent School District Board of Trustees member Dr. Carlos Vasquez (top right) told Dallas Voice in a phone call this afternoon that he’s been told by administrators that an investigation into allegations against Western Hills High School teacher Kristopher Franks should be completed by today or Thursday.

Franks is the WHHS teacher who wrote a notice of infraction against freshman student Dakota Ary (bottom right) and sent Ary to the principal’s office after Ary said during Franks’ German I class that he, Ary, is a Christian and believes homosexuality is wrong. The vice principal then suspended Ary. However, the current investigation doesn’t involve the incident with Ary.

Steven Poole, deputy executive director for the United Educators Association of Texas, a teachers union, confirmed Tuesday that other, unrelated allegations had been made against Franks, and that Franks had been placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the investigation. Vasquez said today that any time allegations are made against a teacher, those allegations have to be investigated, and it is routine for the teacher in question to be placed on paid administrative leave.

Franks has declined to speak to the media on the advice of his union representative. Poole said because the investigation is ongoing, he’s not at liberty to discuss the details of the allegations made against Franks or comment further on the case.

However, Ary and his mother, with the help of Liberty Counsel attorney Matt Krause, went immediately to the press, telling their side of the story in several TV interviews and saying Franks and the school had violated the student’s right to freedom of speech. The case quickly became a rallying point for the religious right.

With Krause representing them, Ary and his mother protested the suspension, and school administrators later reversed their decision.

Ary said in  media interviews that he made the comment quietly to a classmate sitting next to him in response to a discussion going on in the class at the time. But Franks told friends shortly after the incident that there was no discussion involving homosexuality at the time, and that Ary made the comment loudly while looking directly at Franks. Franks also told friends that the comment was only the latest in an ongoing series of incidents in which Ary and a group of three of his friends have made anti-gay comments to and about him.

—  admin

Group says FW teacher was harassed by student he punished for saying homosexuality is wrong

We’re working on a more in-depth story for this Friday’s print edition about the case of a Fort Worth school district teacher who’s accused of suspending a student for saying that homosexuality is wrong. But for now, we thought we’d go ahead and share the below info from Marvin Vann, a member of the group LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S., formed about a year ago to protect LGBT students and teachers in Tarrant County from anti-gay harassment.

Vann is calling on members of the LGBT community to speak out in support of the teacher in this case, whom he identifies as Kristopher Franks. Contact info for Fort Worth ISD administrators is at the end of Vann’s post:

—  John Wright