Safety first

National anti-bullying legislation is launched

High school may be over for recent graduate Robin Greenwood, a lesbian from Dearborn, Mich., but she’s not going to write off the four years of harassment and bullying she endured. Instead, Greenwood is fighting for federal legislation that would protect students from bullying and harassment; she came to Washington last Thursday, to speak about her experience.

”I would be pushed into lockers, threatened, and called names,” Greenwood said. ”The last week before school someone tried to trip me with an umbrella, and after I stepped over it, hit my backpack with it so hard I nearly fell over….”

Greenwood said it’s time to ”step up to the plate” and take action against bullying.

Members of the National Safe Schools Partnership, a multi-disciplinary coalition of approximately 30 national education, health care, civil rights, youth development and criminal justice organizations held the policy briefing ”Bridging the Gap in Federal Law: Promoting Safe Schools and Improved Student Achievement by Preventing Bullying and Harassment in Our Schools,” to promote legislation that would comprehensively address bullying and harassment in schools.

Kevin Jennings, founder and executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, a partner of the coalition, along with other sponsors, advocated for a bill introduced by Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-Calif.), which would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Communities Act to include bullying and harassment prevention programs.

”Policy is what sets the expectations for how you should behave in schools,” said Jennings, a former high-school teacher. ”The fact that we have a gap in our federal policy, that there is no comprehensive anti-bullying or anti-harassment legislation in our schools across the country, is a huge problem because it allows students to decide on their own how they are suppose to behave.”

For more information visit www.glsen.org.

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