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82nd Texas Legislative Session Welcomed with Anti-Bullying Demonstration

January 12, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Youth Issues

Queer Texas United Anti-Bully "Die In" - Austin, Texas, January 11, 2011

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 82nd Texas legislative session.  To welcome the new legislature, Queer Texas United organized a Homophobia and Transphobia Kills Die-In at the front gate of the Capitol Building in Austin.  The purpose of the Die-In was to support anti-bullying legislation.  The Texas Senate has introduced two bills with respect to bullying and cyberbullying for consideration this legislative session.  Presently, there are two anti-bullying bills in the Senate and one in the House.

Roughly fifty people attended the die-in.  On cue, we all fell to the ground while a litany of names were read aloud by organizers then repeated by participants.  Afterward, Representative Joe Farias of San Antonio spoke about the effect of bullying on his own family.  He recounted the horrible bullying his son experienced and how, upon approaching the school administration, he was met with reluctance and even denial instead of help with confronting the problem.

Rather profoundly, another demonstration was being held simultaneously in front of the Capitol Building.  This demonstration was an anti-death penalty rally.  Several participants of that demonstration joined in with the die-in participants.  Signs reading “Stop the Executions” mingled with signs reading “Homophobia Kills, Transphobia Kills.”  Bullying, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and lethal injection all have the same tragic end; life ceases.

At approximately 6:18 p.m. organizers for the execution rally announced that the prisoner who was to be executed had received a stay.  One woman screamed, “We got a stay!”  Perhaps somewhere out in this world a bullied youth received a stay, too.

Overview of introduced Texas Anti-Bullying Legislation:

Senate Bill 245, filed by Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, would amend the Texas Education Code to not only require policy and program development along with staff and parent training for the prevention and reporting of bullying, but also amend the current definition of bullying to include cyberbullying.  Further, S.B. 245 would require that a student who engages in bullying, at the request of a person with authority to act on behalf of a bullied student, to be transferred to another classroom or campus.  Previously, students victimized by bullying were forced to transfer to a new school or classroom themselves which clearly punished the victim rather than the offender.  House Bill 224, field by Representative Mark Strama, is markedly similar to Senate Bill 245.

Senate Bill 205, filed by Senator John Whitmire of Houston, would require school districts to develop a policy prohibiting bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation.  The current text of S.B. 205 does not provide for specific consequences for students who engage in bullying, but instead requires that the district develop a program for remedial action, including counseling for the bully and a referral to appropriate services or to the appropriate county or district attorney.

What you can do in Texas to get involved:

Wearing Purple Just Isn’t Enough – Wear Fabulous!

October 19, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

Me in my purple and yellow scarf

Me in my purple and yellow scarf - yes it's purple, not blue (blame bad lighting)

Tonight, I headed off to my closet to find something purple to wear tomorrow.  I was rummaging through every article of clothing and every corner, including the winter boxes, desperate to answer the Facebook call to wear purple on October 20, 2010 to raise awareness about the LGBT Youth Suicide Epidemic and bullying.  I stumbled upon a very nice button up I had forgotten I owned.  It was an obvious purple, but still conservative enough for a day of business.  I headed off to iron it and realized that the long sleeves were not long enough for my arms.  Back to the closet I trotted.

This time, my eyes stopped on a scarf that was crocheted for me by my dear friend, Crystal, years ago.  The scarf is lined purple and yellow and a bit of an eyesore.  I immediately wished I lived further north where wearing a scarf would be justifiable, but with temperatures in the mid-80’s in South Texas, I knew it would stick out like a sore thumb [an expression I never really understood].

I headed back to the ironing board with another button-up in hand.  This one was less obviously purple, but still purple.  I began ironing it and debating the color.  Someone could easily think my shirt was just another shirt.  It didn’t seem like it would show that I’m wearing purple for a specific reason.  That’s when it occurred to me.  Wearing purple just isn’t enough – we need people to know why we are wearing purple.

There was one problem.  How was I going to engage people in conversation about the Epidemic with a button up, nicely pressed, purple-ish shirt?  The answer was clear – I need to stand out.  I need to wear the purple and yellow scarf tomorrow so that people understand that it isn’t just a garment, it is a statement.  It is a statement that I will not stop fighting for equality until we are EQUAL.  Why?  Because I refuse to lie to our LGBT children.  I refuse to tell them it gets better without first working to make sure it does.

Tomorrow, I challenge all of you (and myself) to engage at least one person in a conversation about bullying and LGBT Youth Suicides.  If you need to borrow my scarf to help jumpstart a conversation, I’m happy to oblige.