The latest newsletter from MassEquality contains a section about bullying. This is a huge issue for those of us in the disability community. As many of my faithful readers know, I am a member of the Massachusetts Cross-Disability Advocacy Coalition, and this issue will be a major focus for us in the coming months. You will be hearing much more about our activities there.
Meanwhile, please make your voice heard in support of this important piece of legislation:
Next week, on May 3, Massachusetts will mark the second anniversary of the signing of the state’s bullying law. This law requires school districts to create bullying prevention plans and provide training on bullying prevention and intervention for all levels of school personnel. This has made a difference in our schools.
But it hasn’t been enough.
The state law that we currently have doesn’t include language specific to kids who are more vulnerable to bullying, such as kids who are LGBT, kids who are disabled or kids who have other differentiating characteristics. And we know that these young people are often bullying targets. According to a survey by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 85% of LGBT students have been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation, and 18% have been physically assaulted. Massachusetts Advocates for Children revealed in a 2009 survey of 400 parents of children with autism, that 88% of those children had been bullied in schools. This is unacceptable. All of our kids need to feel safer now. MassEquality is trying to fix this by supporting passage of House Bill 3584, which would require schools to list out the categories of those most vulnerable to bullying in their school bullying prevention plans.
Please call your Representative and ask for support of House Bill 3584. We need to continue doing everything we can to protect our youth!