Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a proclamation this week declaring Sept. 12-16 “Stand Up Against Bullying Week.”

Rawlings’ proclamation (click to enlarge) notes that “nine out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school within the past year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Stand Up Against Bullying Week coincides with a visit from international rugby star Ben Cohen, who’ll be in town for gay Pride and whose StandUp Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness about anti-LGBT bullying.

“It is an important issue to our youth,” Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said Wednesday. “Bullying is a real thing, and it’s important to bring awareness to it and to say it won’t be tolerated, and if it is happening, then others shouldn’t tolerate it. They should do something about it.”

The Stand Up Against Bullying Week proclamation was issued in response to a request from Jeff Hickey, a local gay activist who led the campaign to bring Cohen to Dallas.

Hickey has formed a group called Dallas Stands Up to host Cohen and spread the word about his visit Sept. 15-18. In addition to being a special VIP guest at the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Cohen will headline an anti-bullying forum at SMU, speak at high schools in Dallas and Fort Worth, and attend a fundraiser for the Stand Up Foundation at the home of a GOP state lawmaker.

“It’s been a pure grassroots effort,” Hickey said. “It’s actually proving to be a much more profound experience than I expected to be.”

Below is a press release from Dallas Stands Up with more details about Cohen’s visit.

Press Release for immediate use

Issued: August 31, 2011

Brief: Dallas welcomes Ben Cohen, World Cup Rugby Champion and Chair of the “Stand Up Foundation” to speak out against Bullying.


In recognition of Ben Cohen’s visit and in support of the local organizing committee “Dallas Stands Up”, Mayor Mike Rawlings has proclaimed the week of September 12-16, 2011 as “Stand Up Against Bullying Week” throughout the city of Dallas.  The week will be filled with a variety of events including presentations and talks at middle/high schools throughout the Metroplex, an Education Summit at SMU, a major fundraising event, and an afternoon of Rugby.

A highlight of the week will be the North Texas Stand Up Against Bullying Education Summit.  The summit is being sponsored by Southern Methodist University and will be hosted by the SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Dean of the School, Dr. David Chard. The summit will be held on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theatre, 3140 Dyer Street, Dallas, TX 75205 from 5-7pm.  This informative event will include a panel of experts and community leaders including the Honorable Joel Burns, Fort Worth City Councilman, Dr. Suzie Fagg, Dallas ISD, Cece Cox J.D., CEO and Executive Director of the Resource Center Dallas and will feature our guest speaker Ben Cohen.  Invitations are open to educators including teachers, teaching students, professors and administrators from the regions schools and universities.  Admission is free.

On Friday evening, September 16, 2011 from 7:30pm – 11pm Dallas Stands Up will host a major fundraiser to help raise monies for the Stand Up Foundation. Ben will be our special guest and will be joined by local politicians, celebrities and VIP’s.  The evening will be filled with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and entertainment as we come together to increase the focus and public discussion designed to help eradicate bullying.  For information on attending the fundraiser, please call 214-755-6566 or via email at info@dallasstandsup.com.  A recommended $50 minimum donation will be requested at the door.

Saturday will find Ben and the Stand Up Committee out on the pitch with the Dallas Diablos.  We will be joining the Diablos Men’s team and the Women’s team for their regularly scheduled game and practice.  The Dallas Diablos Women will be playing against “Glendale Women Raptors” (from Colorado) at 11:00 am.  Men’s practice, women’s game and picnic will be held on Saturday September 17, 2011 at Lake Highlands Park off Buckner Blvd and E Lake Highlands between 10am and 2:30pm.

Sunday will wrap up the week’s events with Ben as a VIP participant in this year’s Allen Ross Freedom Parade on Sunday September 18, 2011 starting at 2:00pm in the Oaklawn area (http://www.dallasprideparade.com).  The Parade travels down Cedar Springs Road from Wycliff Avenue to Lee Park on Turtle Creek Blvd. Entries line up on Wycliff Avenue.  This years parade culminates with the Pride Festival being held at Lee Park.  There is a nominal $5.00 admission fee this year for the festival.

Bullying has become a major problem throughout our society.  More than 55% of all students report having witnessed a bullying crime in their schools each year.  An estimated 9 out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school within the past year because of their presumed sexual orientation or gender identity. Recent bullying statistics demonstrate a strong correlation between being bullied and suicide. Suicide rates continue to grow among adolescents, having increased more than 50 percent in the past 30 years.

After the successful first leg of his “Acceptance Tour”, World Champion Rugby Player Ben Cohen MBE will be in Dallas for the kick off to the second round of his tour to promote his message against bullying and to raise funds for “The Stand Up Foundation” as well as gather support encouraging everyone to stand up with him against bullying and.  Ben is embarking on the second leg of his North American Acceptance Tour with a prolonged stop in Dallas, TX September 15 – 18, 2011 as part of the ten city tour.

‘I have reached the top in my sport. It has been an incredible journey and has put me in the privileged position I am in today to be able to work on these exciting new projects through the StandUp Brand. As athletes, it is not enough just to have strong bodies. We must have strong characters and use our voices to support those who need and deserve it.’

-Ben Cohen

Mr. Cohen, a Rugby World Cup Champion and second in all time scoring for England, is one of the world’s greatest athletes.  He is the first straight professional sports star to dedicate his philanthropic efforts to speak out against bullying generally and for the benefit of LGBT community. Mr. Cohen, married and father of twin daughters, is widely considered a “gay icon” for his rugged good looks, long-standing LGBT advocacy, and nearly 175,000 predominately gay friends on Facebook. Mr. Cohen’s cause is as personal as it is for his fans; his own father was brutally beaten to death in 2000. “Every human being has the right to love and be loved, and I want to be a bridge between LGBT and straight communities to create a kinder world,” he said.


Jeff Hickey, Co-Chair | Tel +1 (214) 755-6566 | mailto:jeff@dallasstandsup.com

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The Stand Up Foundation

The Stand Up Foundation was founded in May, 2011 and is believed to be the world’s first organization dedicated solely to the cause of anti-bullying, wherever and to whomever it occurs.  Due to recent high-profile instances of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bullying,, the Foundation gives particular focus and attention to this community.

Mr. Cohen also has created the StandUp™ social-commerce brand, managed and licensed by Ben Cohen USA, Inc., his commercial enterprise.  StandUp™ is the first social-commerce brand developed for the benefit of the anti-bullying cause and the LGBT community.  Its profits will be shared with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation.

The Foundation will help coordinate and fund specific anti-bullying programs led by a variety of other groups. As part of the launch, Mr. Cohen announced the “StandUp Network” of partners in the United States. The StandUp Network in other countries will be announced later. The U.S. partners are:

▪                Human Rights Campaign Foundation

▪                Campus Pride

▪                The Matthew Shepard Foundation

▪                The Trevor Project