IMPORTANT UPDATE: RCD’s Rafael McDonnell reports that those wishing to speak at Thursday’s DISD meeting must sign up by 5 p.m. Wednesday by calling board services at 972-925-3720.
Resource Center Dallas is calling on the Dallas Independent School District to add protections for LGBT students to a proposed new anti-bullying policy. As we reported yesterday, the new anti-bullying policy is slated to be discussed Thursday by DISD’s board of trustees. A final vote is expected at the end of the month, but as currently written, the policy doesn’t include specific prohibitions against bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. Which seems odd given the fact that we are in the midst of an epidemic of teen suicides related to anti-gay bullying and harassment, including at least one in Texas. Resource Center is encouraging people to contact the nine members of DISD’s Board of Trustees and demand that they amend the policy to include LGBT students. RCD has also sent its own letter to each of the nine trustees, which we’ve posted below. From RCD’s press release:
“We are pleased that DISD is revisiting its approach to bullying. Unfortunately, the proposed policy does not define which students are to be protected by it. As a result, it does not provide specific protections for LGBT students. It is vital for this board to specifically articulate who this policy is designed to protect, rather than simply stating a broad definition of bullying. Absent any specific protections, it could be inferred that it would be okay to bully students based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Given the rash of LGBT bullying-related suicides in recent weeks—including one in the greater Houston area—specifically articulated protections are not formalities; they are essential.
“Resource Center Dallas encourages the North Texas LGBT community to contact the nine members of the DISD board. Encourage them to modify the proposed anti-bullying policy to specifically include LGBT students. Board members still have time to improve the protections for the youngest members of our community. Contact information, including phone numbers and e-mail, can be found at http://www.dallasisd.org/about/boardcontact.htm. Additionally, if you are able to attend the DISD board meeting Thursday, October 14 at 11:30 a.m. at 3700 Ross Avenue in Dallas, please do so. A representative of the Center will address the board on these issues.”
October 13, 2010
Edwin Flores, Board Member
Dallas Independent School District
3700 Ross Avenue, Box 1
Dallas, TX 75204
VIA E-MAIL AND FAX
Dear Mr. Flores,
Resource Center Dallas writes to acknowledge and affirm you and your DISD trustee colleagues for revisiting DISD’s approach to bullying. Yours is a timely and important conversation, and we appreciate your leadership on this topic. At the same time, as an organization that has served the GLBT community for the past 27 years, we are concerned that the proposed policy does not specifically identify protected populations, including LGBT youth.
To us, it seems vital for this board to specifically articulate who this policy is designed to protect, rather than simply stating a broad definition of bullying. Absent any specific protections, it could be inferred that it would be okay to bully students based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Given the rash of GLBT bullying-related suicides in recent weeks—including one in the greater Houston area—specifically articulated protections and populations protected are not formalities; they are essential if the policy is to have real import.
We would like to discuss the policy and its implications for youth in general, and GLBT youth in particular, before the final adoption of the revised policy. We are available to schedule a meeting for either October 21 or the afternoon of October 22. These students—our next generation—deserve the time we spend today working together to create an effective and meaningful policy.
Again, thank you for your leadership and we look forward to working with you regarding this policy.
Lee Taft, J.D., M. Div.
Associate Executive Director, GLBT Programs and Strategic Partnerships
Resource Center Dallas
Strategic Communications and Programs Manager
Resource Center Dallas