Looking forward to 2011 it is valuable to ask ourselves “What can we do this next year to make our nation a more just, safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ people?” Something that comes to mind reflecting on 2010 were the tragic suicides by LGBTQ youth. The Center for Disease Control in its “Youth at Risk” study of 1999 stated that one-third of our communities’ adolescents will attempt suicide. One-third!
It seems to me that Anti-Bullying Laws would be a very important cause for our community to support in this New Year. Here are some very good reasons:
1. Anti-Bullying Laws will affect our entire LGBTQ community. This inclusive cause will help to heal a rift in our community. Many in the Trans community have felt abandoned by our community in our efforts to pass ENDA and repeal both DOMA & DADT.
2. “Social conservatives” have invoked “the children” as a trump to our civil rights repeatedly. Anti-Bullying Laws enable us to turn the tables on these bigots and places them on the defensive. They will counter claiming their right to “Free Speech;” however, their speech incites hatred, emotional and physical violence that is visited upon children.
3. Anti-Bullying campaigns and laws may be championed at different levels. From the local PTA meeting, School Districts, States and on a National level. This encourages grass roots and Direct Action. Ordinary people without huge financial resources can have a considerable impact.
4. We will be able to collaborate with various other organizations and people of good will. For example, PFLAG, GSA, ACLU, the Trevor Project, and It Gets Better, to name a few.
5. Grassroots action will help to change social attitudes and the very dialogue about LGBTQ civil rights. In short, this will put a human face on our civil rights goals. Children will be highlighted as the victims of anti-LGBTQ prejudice and bigotry.
6. The most important reason of all is that we will become a public voice for those in our community who have no voice. We will become advocates for those who are arguably the most vulnerable. Most of us have experienced the fear and sometimes-outright terror of constant verbal and physical harassment at school. It is time we spoke up and spoke out to end this monstrous evil.
How to start:
1. Have a team of Psychologists and Educators explain the effects of bullying on victims. Have this team also delineate some of the tell tale signs for parents; incidentally, this opens straight parents as our allies in this battle. Have this team also suggest active measures that parents/guardians and local school boards can take to help stop bullying.
2. Ask attorneys to take the recommendations of this team and help to fashion laws/legislation that could be adopted to assist parents/guardians, teachers, and school boards to reduce or eliminate bullying.
3. Ask each major LGBTQ organization to designate one contact person to meet with a national board to coordinate our efforts at advancing Anti-Bullying campaigns.