Justice Department: Bullying a Big Concern


Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said during an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the Obama administration continues to be concerned about a growing number of  bullying cases that are being reported, and particularly those relating to anti-LGBT bullying.

From the Washington Blade:

“The bullying of kids who are LGBT is probably the largest growth area in our docket,” Perez said. “This is about safety — whether it’s kids who are gay, whether it’s kids who are Muslim, whether it’s kids who speak English with an accent, whether it’s kids with disabilities, and we have in Tennessee a case involving bullying of kids with disabilities — this is an emerging growth area, I regret to say.”

Perez made the remarks on bullying in response to questioning from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who introduced legislation known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act that aims to protect LGBT youth from bullying and harassment in school.

President Obama has yet to endorse the legislation. During the hearing, Perez said the administration supports “the goals” of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, but stopped short of offering a full-throated endorsement.
“I very much support the goals behind your efforts in introducing the Student Non-Discrimination Act,” Perez said. “Kids are dying, kids are being brutally assaulted, kids are scared.”

Perez later went on to say that Congressional action on nondiscrimination legislation would be “helpful” but again did not indicate any preferred legislation.

He did, however, highlight the administration’s engagement with anti-bullying efforts, such as the anti-bullying summit held in March by the President and First Lady Michelle Obama. Perez went on to highlight that the Education Department has also sent notice that it is interpreting federal law prohibiting gender discrimination to cover LGBT students who do not conform to gender norms — this is not a perfect solution as it will not apply in all cases, but it is an example of how the administration has worked independently to try and combat this issue.

Perez also discussed how the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law in 2009, has been a boon to the administration. Perez elaborates that because of the act the administration has been able to train over 4,000 local law enforcement officers, adding that the legislation’s scope goes far beyond securing hate crimes charges against those convicted of bias motivated crimes and that it has “facilitated additional cooperation with state and local authorities.”

Perez also talked about ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act, that would prevent sexual orientation and gender identity and expression-related discrimination in the workplace, whereby he reiterated the administration’s support for the legislation. ENDA currently languishes in Congress with little hope of passing due to an LGBT rights-hostile Republican majority (especially given that the Democratic legislators couldn’t muster the impetus to pass the bill with majorities in both chambers prior to this).

To read more on Perez’s comments click over to the Washington Blade.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SENDA) mentioned above, introduced in the House by Rep. Polis (D-Col.) and the Senate by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), would add to existing federal statutes explicit protections against bullying on the grounds of perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

If schools receiving federal funds do not adequately combat and track incidents of anti-LGBT bullying or if school administrators are found to have discriminated against LGBT children then, under the Student Non Discrimination Act, their federal funding may be cut.

The legislation currently sits waiting to be taken up by Congress.


Related Reading:

Seth Walsh’s Mom Speaks Out About Her Son’s Anti-LGBT Bullying Related Death

Bullied Gay Teen Who Attempted Suicide Dies in Hospital

Ellen DeGeneres has an Important Message for LGBT Youth


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Cesar Augusto Serna Sz


Catt R.
Catt R7 years ago

Fa'izah J. A..... do you not think God hears you saying it is good to abuse the weak, how will you explain this reasoning?

s. ryan
p. q7 years ago

tsk tsk, Randi L.
you are a hater.

Emily Drew
Emily Drew7 years ago

Randi L.
My parents are lesbian and when we go out they don't hold, they don't kiss, they don't even SIT NEXT TO EACHOTHER when we go out to eat because they don't want ME to be subject to bullying because they are lesbian. They even sleep in seperate beds at our house so my friends don't know so they won't bully me. But I tell them my parents are lesbian anyway beacuase if they don't want to be my friend just because my parents are gay then I don't want them as a friend. Does THAT sound like anyway to live or express love? I don't think so.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

LBGT issue cause debate. heated fights summon the rise of the origen of the threat. or was it just grumpy kids with no self essteme who make life for gay kids a hell? a hell others say is the fitting place for said homosexuals?

then they will cry "where is my freedom to believe what I do? you are the closed minded bigot, our nations are no loger pious. look at what god did to them for igoring his laws!"

blame god. god is the orginal LBGT bully.

Mark Sebree
Mark Sebree7 years ago

Randi L.

Since when have heterosexuals kept their sexual preferences behind closed doors? Heterosexual couples kiss, hold hands, embrace, dance together, have meals in public together, and walk arm in arm all the time in public. Nobody thinks anything of them having pictures of their significant other and families in plain site on the desks at work. Their engagements and weddings have special pages dedicated to them in the papers. After marriage, they even advertise the fact that their are married, or engaged for the women, in plain site on their hands.

The fact of the matter is that heterosexuals are very, very open about their sexuality because society and our culture are accepting of their relationship and expect that type of behavior. So accepting of that type of behavior, in fact, that YOU do not even notice it when it is happening most of the time. However, if a homosexual couple acts in public the EXACT same way as a heterosexual couple, you will bitch, moan, deride them, and try to deny them happiness just because YOU cannot accept whom their happen to love.

Your concept of what is and is not a "sin" does not matter either. They are not subject to your beliefs.

And by the way, I am completely heterosexual, so I already have all the rights that homosexuals are fighting for, and I gain NOTHING by supporting them. I just happen to believe in the ideals of equality, liberty, and trying to be happy.

Glen P.
Glen P7 years ago

This is an especially dangerous time for LGBT people.

As equal rights and equality under law, and societal tolerance and acceptance of gay people as fine members of our diverse society becomes more of a reality the hard-core bigots and religious zealots, realizing they are rapidly losing the bigotries they hold most dear, are lashing out, and will be lashing out, like never before. This will influence the unfortunate children that they have contact with.

Linda T.
Linda T7 years ago

Thank goodness for the Justice Department. States rights my a$$. People need a strong Federal government to protect us from the state. States do not protect children. Unfortunately.

Thomas C.
Thomas Camoin7 years ago

wow, Randy L. your comments are truely right out of the 19th century. If my behavior disturbs someone then that is there proplem NOT mine. You sound like the kind of guy who would argue that women should dress modestly in order to avoid being raped. Quit trying to blame the victim!

Randi L.
Randi Levin7 years ago

Why is this issue of LGBT made such a huge issue by the media, celebrities etc.. And why are those who are LGBT so public with their preference rather then keeping it behind closed doors as most people do with their sexual life. What goes on sexually between 2 or more people should be left quiet personal.
Also they know that other people may be offended by 2 boys kissing in a lallway or 2 girls doing the same---so why not have some self-respect and keep behind closed doors. IF you want to be Gay or are Gay then fine, but respect that many others do not want to see it and that you are SETING YOURSELF UP to be bullied-----so keep behind closed doors and you won't get bullied. END OF SUBJECT!.