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WV Bully-Free Launches in West Virginia

WV Bully-Free Launches in West Virginia

 

Advocacy group Fairness West Virginia has partnered with the ACLU to create WV Bully-Free, an initiative aiming to create effective anti-bullying policies in West Virginia.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia currently have LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying laws. However, West Virginia lacks a clause protecting students on grounds of individual characteristics like their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. WV Bully-Free wishes to change that and lobbies for the introduction of legislation that recognizes and specifically protects at-risk groups like LGBTs.

From the WV Bully-Free website:

Enumeration, which would strengthen the current law, is essential to protecting all students. An anti-bullying law that specifies student characteristics would clarify for teachers and administrators which students are most at risk of harassment, how to recognize bullying when it occurs, and how to respond to bullying in appropriate, measured ways.

WV Bully-Free is leading the push to encourage stronger anti-bullying protections and is working across the state to educate the public about why students — especially LGBT youth — need more robust and effective protections from bullying.

The project, which officially launched in July, aims to combat bullying in a variety of ways, and as well as the legislative approach also wishes to highlight personal stories of bullying and the effects that such harassment has.

Among those stories on the WV Bully-Free website is an account by Bradley Milam, the program director of Fairness West Virginia.

You can watch Bradley tell his story below:

You can watch other personal stories here.

Fairness West Virginia has consistently lobbied for changes to school bullying policies, however groups like the Family Policy Council of West Virginia have campaigned against this move, saying that there is no need to change the blanket bullying policy in schools and that to specifically add sexual orientation and gender identity protections introduces themes of sexuality into schools when they need not be there.

However, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s 2009 National School Climate Survey, which involved more than 7,260 middle school and high school students, found that nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment in the school year prior to the survey. Furthermore, around two-thirds said because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation they felt unsafe at school.

Yet, the survey found a marked reduction in harassment and students reporting feeling unsafe in schools where LGBT protections were explicitly included in school anti-bullying policies. The survey found that teachers were also more likely to intervene to protect students from anti-LGBT bullying in schools where LGBT-inclusive bullying policies were in force.

To read more on the GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey, please click here.

To read more about the WV Bully-Free campaign, click here to go to the website.

Related Reading:

Virginia Board of Juvenile Justice Bans Anti-Gay Discrimination

Virginia Board of Social Services Rejects Gay-Inclusive Adoption Rules

UPDATE: Virginia’s Students Don’t Want LGBT Discrimination – Shame the Attorney General Seems To

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.

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17 comments

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1:37PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

A small step but the world need more work to end bullying.

11:52AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Zero tolerance on all bullying. Everyone should respect each other. It's a pity that this state hasn't already got in place. Stay strong Bradley.

8:49AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Bullying hurts. Good for WV and Bradley. We need to protect all of our children.

8:08PM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

....noted

6:33PM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

Bullying sucks- it doesn't matter if you're straight, gay, whatever race, or religion you are. But because it still seems ok to pick on people because they are LGTB, it's fine with me if the anti-bullying sentiment is aimed at stopping bullying due to sexual orientation.

5:02PM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

What about kids who aren't LGBT? I'm not gay but I was bullied mercilessly in school.No one gave a crap.(Even teachers got in on it.)No one should have to live with that kind of treatment.

1:08PM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

No one should be bullied. None of us should tolerate it anywhere around us.

8:27AM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

Bradley- you will help so many kids with your frank assessment of what is lacking in education. It is time that people are TAUGHT what scientists already know- sexual orientation is not like a club you join; it is part of the essence of who you are and it is determined before birth. Every person deserves respect in this world and you were not given that in high school, obviously, but you have chosen to help others in similar situations and help them to realize that they are not alone. Well, I say, "Bravo!" to you. You are a stellar person.

8:10AM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

Bradley-You are not alone. You have much value, and you are loved, regardless of your sexual orientation. Nobody has the right to judge you based on your homosexuality, I am proud of you for speaking out so eloquently. People have a right to their own opinions, but they do not have a right to harass and embarrass you. Everyone has a right to live their life with dignity and respect, no matter whom they love or how they love. Keep up the good fight, young man-you are on the side of what is right, and, eventually right will prevail.

6:15AM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others.
Later on Sex Education should be taught from Contraceptives, Masturbation,LGBT and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry and Algebra. They can learn this in college if need be. I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

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