Few of us would disagree that we have a duty to keep children safe, and that means we are all invested in ensuring that our schools provide a safe learning environment.

That is why we’re pleased to see that HB 224 — proposed anti-bullying legislation filed by State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin — has been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Public Education next Tuesday. If it becomes law, Rep. Strama’s bill would provide educators and school administrators the kind of comprehensive tools they need to stop bullying in its tracks and, hopefully, prevent the kind of unfortunate and tragic cases of teen suicides we have all read about in the past year.

Our friends at Equality Texas can give you a snapshot of the problem, and the reasons why it demands a response from our lawmakers. Surveys conducted by EQTX have shown that 39 percent of Texas students have reported being verbally harassed, and 17 percent reported being physically harassed or assaulted. Equally troubling are the reasons for the abuse, which include race/ethnicity, gender and perceptions about the student’s sexuality. More on this legislation after the jump. Here is just some… Read More

by Jose Medina

Our friends and partners at Equality Texas have asked us to pass along an invitation to TFN members, and we are more than happy to do so. Equality Texas is hosting a lobby day coming up on Monday, March 7, to push for inclusive policies that protect all children, end discrimination and strengthen relationships.

Here are the details:

Equality Texas Lobby Day: All roads to equality lead to the Texas Capitol

Monday, March 7 (Breakfast and check-in begin at 7:30 a.m.) Meet at First United Methodist Church Family Life Center (FUMC) 1300 Lavaca Street Austin, TX. 78701

Registration for Equality Texas Lobby Day is free, but advanced registration is required. A full schedule of activities and registration information can be found here.

And don’t forget, TFN Lobby Day is also only a few weeks away (March 21).

 

(7)  Science concepts. The student knows evolutionary theory is a scientific explanation for the unity and diversity of life. The student is expected to:… Read More

The research compiled by the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University in San Marcos is heartbreaking: since 2004, at least six Texas teens have been so tormented by bullying and  abuse at school that they have taken their own lives. Another attempted suicide by jumping from a  two-and-a-half-story balcony.

Some of the students were gay or lesbian (or perceived to be their tormentors). Others weren’t. One Rockdale student shot herself after constant bullying over her weight and physical appearance. A transgender teen from the same town hung herself just the next month. A high school student in Cleburne, harassed repeatedly because of facial scars and a hearing impairment, was reportedly told: “If I had a face like yours, I’d shoot myself.” He went home and did just that.

Today more and more adults are standing up to say, “Enough.” They are calling on lawmakers to pass anti-bullying legislation that helps protect all children from this abuse. And they are appealing to young people — gay and straight — to keep the hope that life gets better. We were especially moved by this video of an openly gay Fort Worth City Council member, Joel Burns,… Read More

The message from Texans was loud and clear in the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s statewide survey last spring: 88 percent of likely voters said they support “requiring public schools to protect all children from bullying, harassment, and discrimination in school, including the children of gay and lesbian parents or teenagers who are gay.”

Far-right pressure groups like Focus on the Family, however, seem to believe promoting their anti-gay hate agenda is more important than protecting children — even after the recent suicides of three teenage boys (including one from the Houston area) who had been bullied severely and repeatedly by classmates. Two teens, one 13 and the other 15, hanged themselves. The Houston-area teen, 13, shot himself. But Focus on the Family says laws that seek to protect gay and lesbian students from bullying simply “promote homosexuality to kids.” Focus and other far-right pressure groups have also launched a full-scale media assault on the Safe Schools Improvement Act in Congress.

The Texas Legislature has refused to pass anti-bullying legislation in previous sessions. Last year, Focus on the Family’s Texas affiliate, Liberty Institute, dishonestly attacked an anti-bullying bill (