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Colorado Grapples With Civil Unions And Bullying In Schools

03/09/11-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
Colorado’s legislature is focusing upon several issues which concern the LGBT Community. Yesterday, footage of Pastor Roger Anghis surfaced from his testimony with regards to civil unions. Today, the House Education Committee approved a bill to try and reduce the frequency of bullying in public schools. Of course, the two issues are related as the more normalized the LGBT Community becomes, the less likely people are going to bully because of a perception that someone is lesbian or gay.

Today, a press release was issued regarding the passage of the bill, and the video of Pastor Anghis’ testimony follows:

Today, the House Education Committee approved HB-1254, a bill to reduce the frequency of bullying in public schools. If passed, the bill will clearly define bullying, create a grant program to which schools can apply in order to fund bullying prevention programs, and require each school district to adopt a comprehensive, evidence-based anti-bullying policy.

“We applaud this decision by the House Education Committee to move this important bill forward. All students deserve to go to school free from fear, isolation, and harassment,” said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “It’s our job as adults to ensure every student is protected and safe in our schools.”

Today’s House Education Committee hearing included testimony from a number of experts on the issue of bullying in schools.

“While historically, being bullied has been tolerated as an inevitable adolescent rite of passage, we now know that bullying has significant negative impacts on the academic achievement, educational aspirations, and psychological well being of all students,” said Erin Yourtz, Safe Schools Coordinator at One Colorado. “Addressing the pervasive problem of bullying in our schools is as important as, and tied to, academics. If we are concerned about kids succeeding in school and in life, we must start with school climate and safety.”

“How many other bright, talented kids are kept from reaching their potential, or driven to suicide by a climate of hatred? I tire of people saying that ‘kids have always been bullied.’ I doubt that those people were the victims or are the parents of the victims of bullying. Our complacency hurts our kids in profound, measurable ways,” said Deborah Stone, parent of a gay son and Vice President of PFLAG Denver. “It doesn’t have to be this way. We can say ‘no’ to bullying.”

A coalition of nearly 30 organizations that is advocating for HB-1254 includes the state’s leading education organizations—the American Federation of Teachers in Colorado, the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, and the Colorado Education Association—as well as women’s rights organizations, LGBT groups, and health associations.

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