Easy As 1323: Texas House Takes on Bullying

HB 1323 seeks to stop the madness

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Bullying has become a public health concern. Schools are supposed to be a respite from violence, not its breeding ground. Queer kids know all too well the sting of social dominance, and all too often faculty and staff turn a blind eye, whether due to a lack of skills and awareness, or because of simple bigotry. And with the dawn of personal networking sites, texting, cell phones, instant messaging, and the like, a bully's reach can extend far beyond knuckle sandwiches; victims' lives can be made a 24/7 hell.

House Bill 1323 by Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, aims to provide relief and give schools the support they need to protect their students' bodies (etc.).

Ever vigilant Equality Texas breaks it down for us and encourages us to engage:

Expanding the definition of bullying to bullying by electronic means such as computers, cell phones, text messaging, and instant messaging.

Expanding the current definition of bullying to include incidents that occur off school property if the communication is likely to cause a disruption to the educational environment of a campus.

Providing for the movement of the bully to another classroom or campus, at the discretion of school administration. Currently, the victim is required to move to another classroom or campus.

Expanding the mandatory sexual harassment policy that school districts are required to have to include bullying.

Requiring notification of the parents or guardians of both the victim and the student who is bullying or sexually harassing another student.

Expanding the state's Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) reporting requirement to include incidents of bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment. Includes a requirement to report if incidents were a result of race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability.

Also, check ET's blog for details and cases that illustrate the need for this bill.

A similar Bill was introduced in 2007, but died on the House floor due to lack of action, so it is imperative that those who value equality speak out now.

To take action, join the Stop the Madness campaign, and send a letter to your state representative. ET has made it a simple click. Please do click away.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

civil rights, 81st Legislature, Texas House of Representatives, Mark Strama, Education, Bullying, Texas schools, School Violence, HB 1323, Equality Texas, Gay

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