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Much like how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law an ”Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” on Jan. 6, LGBT Virginians and allies are hoping to see passage of measures introduced by Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington, Fairfax), the state’s only openly gay delegate, and Del. David Englin (D-Alexandria, Arlington).
Ebbin’s bill would implement anti-bullying language into the state’s criminal code, while Englin’s would introduce policies requiring that school administrators address bullying.
Bill Briggs, executive director of Metro DC Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), says the organization has been working on anti-bullying efforts over the past several weeks and passage of those bills would help PFLAG’s cause.
”I think some teachers are worried about their own safety,” Briggs says. ”Some teachers are afraid that if they are gay or lesbian they might be targeted for showing maybe favoritism, or they may be harassed themselves, whether it be by a student or maybe parents might gang up on them. In Virginia, particularly, it’s not always safe for a teacher to come out of the closet.”
To combat that, Briggs says Metro DC PFLAG has held several meetings with parents, teachers and community members and provided training on how to address bullying when talking to school boards.
”The biggest issue right now is that teachers don’t know how to stand up when they’re hearing a kid is getting bullied,” he says. ”A lot of the teachers want to step in and intervene, but they don’t know how to do it.”
For more on Metro DC PFLAG, call 202-638-3852 or visit pflagdc.org.