“Bully Free” DC Day
April 21, 2011
Personal stories of bullying and harassment from DC youth took center stage earlier this afternoon at the Rally for “Bully Free” DC, as District of Columbia youth, teachers, families, and activists joined lawmakers on the steps of the Wilson Building to celebrate the introduction and urge movement of the Bullying and Intimidation Prevention Act of 2011 (B19-11).
D’Angelo Morrison, an intern at the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), and a product of the DC Public Schools, spoke candidly and from the heart about the harassment he faced while in high school. He introduced himself, saying “Hello, my name is f*g. Actually it is D’Angelo, but f*g is what they called me in high school.” He told of how, even as an athlete and successful student, he was bullied and harassed by other students in DC Public Schools because he was gay. Addressing the real and true dangers of bullying, D’Angelo listed the names of Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, and Tyler Clemente, all victims of anti-gay bullying and harassment who took their own lives. “My name could’ve been on this list.” D’Angelo said. He concluded his remarks by saying, “I’m gay, so what?”
Council members Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr., Muriel Bowser, Yvette Alexander, and Sekou Biddle, along with a spokesperson from Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s office, spoke of the importance of the Bullying and Intimidation Prevention Act and their commitment to passing it. Jeffrey Richardson of the Mayor’s Office on LGBT Affairs also read Mayor Gray’s proclamation declaring today “Bully Free” DC Day.
The Bullying and Intimidation Prevention Act is a critical anti-bullying measure which will protect students by requiring DC Public Schools and other District agencies that work with youth to develop comprehensive anti-bullying policies.
A supportive academic environment is essential for student learning. This bill will increase academic achievement in District schools by providing educators the tools they need to create a welcoming environment for all DC students. Comprehensive anti-bullying policies have proven to be effective in stopping bullying and making sure all students are safe at school so they can focus on learning.
Addressing bullying and harassment in our schools must be a priority—achieving real change in our schools will require strong policies and meaningful implementation by the entire community. Our students deserve safe schools. To see a map with information about statewide school laws and policies, visit http://www.hrc.org/documents/school_laws.pdf.