Garnet Coleman files suicide prevention bill that would ban anti-LGBT bullying, discrimination

Rep. Garnet Coleman

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.

—  John Wright

An important Pride event we somehow overlooked: Trevor Project fundraiser tonight

Chris Heinbaugh, the openly gay chief of staff for Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, sent out a message earlier this week encouraging people to attend a fundraiser this evening (Friday) for the Trevor Project, the national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth. Heinbaugh is on the host commitee for the event, which somehow got left out of the Pride schedule we posted earlier. Anyhow, here’s an excerpt from Heinbaugh’s message:

“20 years ago, I lost a close cousin to suicide when she was 16, and can never begin to understand what struggles pushed her to such a desperate and irreversible decision. Sadly, these tragedies don’t seem any closer to an end. I have been stunned to see in the news recently examples of kids, some very, very young, who have taken their lives after being relentlessly bullied, many times being taunted for being gay, or being perceived as gay.

“Clearly, this weekend is loaded with plenty of celebration and fun. But it’s also a reminder of how much work we have to do… and the wonderful organizations out there fighting the good fight. They need our support.”

The fundraiser will be from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Craighead Green Gallery, 1011 Dragon St. in Dallas. Tickets are $50 at the door, and you must be 21 to attend. Here are some more deets from the FB page:

Enjoy complimentary drinks in celebration of Dallas Pride. Mix & mingle with local professionals dedicated to The Trevor Project’s life-saving work throughout North Texas. Eco-Friendly cocktails provided by VeeV. The evening also includes a raffle drawing with prizes ranging from $200-$600 in value.

—  John Wright