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Justice Department: LGBT student bullying on the rise

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Friday, September 16, 2011

Bullying of LGBT youth is making up a growing number of discrimination complaints received by the Obama administration.

Michael Key, Washington Blade

Thomas Perez

Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said on Tuesday there has been a growing number of reported bullying cases during an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The bullying of kids who are LGBT is probably the largest growth area in our docket,” Perez said. ”This is about safety — whether it’s kids who are gay, whether it’s kids who are Muslim, whether it’s kids who speak English with an accent, whether it’s kids with disabilities, and we have in Tennessee a case involving bullying of kids with disabilities — this is an emerging growth area, I regret to say.”

Perez made the remarks on bullying in response to questioning from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who introduced legislation known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act that aims to protect LGBT youth from bullying and harassment in school.

President Obama has yet to endorse the legislation. During the hearing, Perez said the administration supports “the goals” of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, but stopped short of offering a full-throated endorsement.

“I very much support the goals behind your efforts in introducing the Student Non-Discrimination Act,” Perez said. “Kids are dying, kids are being brutally assaulted, kids are scared.”

Perez noted that the Obama administration has taken on an “active program engagement” on its own to address bullying. One such step was an anti-bullying summit that Obama and first lady Michelle Obama held at the White House in March.

Additionally, the Education Department has interpreted federal law prohibiting gender discrimination to cover in some instances LGBT students who don’t conform to gender stereotypes. Title IV of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibit harassment based on gender.

Following up on the remarks, Franken said he assumes Perez’s mention of the Student Non-Discrimination Act means the administration believes “an explicit ban against discrimination in public schools based on sexual orientation” is necessary.

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17 more reader comments:

  1. u cant bully and beat down forever eventually thier pain will turn to anger and then u will be sorry for bullying them just for loving and being themselves

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:25pm
  2. we need new laws about bullying in place as crime

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:26pm
  3. talk is cheap,Justice dept is aware of my complaint , instead of fighting against legalization, instead of being scared of jews and catholics ,and assassins, it comes w/job,Democrats have put country in big pile of shit , and republicans are trucking in more shit as they control trucking industry……shit and shit and more shit

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:34pm
  4. And slapping kids with legal penalties will do what? In my experience, the punishments for harassment only makes the harassment worse. The only solution is long, painful societal change, and realistically it will never go away completely. What we really need is supportive faculty to provide safe spaces away from the assholes.

    Frankly, I blame the parents. They pass their prejudices on to their kids.

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:34pm
  5. I like it because they are referring to it as bullying rather than “holy conversions”

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:34pm
  6. On the rise? it’s ALWAYS been there. My brother went through hell in high school. It’s just being exposed for the evil it is. And rightly so. At least it’s no longer the general Eighties mentality of ‘well, it’s all your own fault for being so disgusting.’

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:36pm
  7. .:(

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:39pm
  8. Not on the rise….more attention and more reports.

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:47pm
  9. It’s all white conservative Christian kids doing the bullying, and no one else! I say we take pictures of any kid who slips up and make a public record known of them known to everyone! So we can make sure they get counter bullied for the rest of their life. L O L

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 1:48pm
  10. This is really sad and not new.

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 2:01pm
  11. @Julian I like your idea.

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 2:05pm
  12. Wow

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 2:09pm
  13. This is only going to get worse because you have a large, powerful influential group of people out there (religious right) that are working tirelessly to demonize and subjugate LGBTQ people. They constantly put out lies that we are evil, take a look at this website of Linda Harvey who appeared in a recent piece on this site – http://www.missionamerica.com/ – look left and down at the list of articles and you see nothing but stuff demonizing feminism, sexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and paganism. Thats all these people do and they have money and power, there will be no freedom or safety for LGBTQ people until the religious right is dealt with because they aim for our destruction, just ask them.

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 2:31pm
  14. bullying is wrong why are people so concernd with who someone sleeps with anyway? that’s just lame

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 3:16pm
  15. We augment hatred when we fight it with hatred. Only love, education and compassion can de-escalate hatred, convert haters and break the generational cycle. Many kids with hating parents grow to be more thinking adults. We can’t teach them by our anger and hatred. We can offer them a more inclusive, loving model of humanity.

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 5:47pm
  16. WTF is wrong with people – We are all humans and need to treat each other with kindness – Crazy World we live in

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 7:57pm
  17. Florida Outpost4u wrote: “WTF is wrong with people – We are all humans and need to treat each other with kindness – Crazy World we live in.” —– It’s all about petty politics. You’re always going to have indifference. The indifference at the stem of all this bullying today’s youth is facing, however, stems from the age-old hate the religious right has peddled. That, above everything else, is what needs to be eradicated. The one-note braindead zombies who live their day-to-day lives by their precious bibles conveniently tend to neglect the fact it was imperfect flesh and blood mortal men, NOT GOD, who composed and compiled all the writings within that book. And, somehow, over time, those flawed writings have incredulously been misinterpreted as “God’s Law.” It’s these very same self-righteous and insanely deluded people who, today, feel overly justified in dictating how everybody else should live and who deserves the same so-called “inalienable rights” our constitution promises and that they so callously take advantage of. If people like this had their way, this country would be under theocratic rule. And, make no mistake, that is PRECISELY what they want. Separation of church and state means absolutely NOTHING to people like this and I think it’s the main reason why they all tend to turn a blind eye to the anti-gay bullying and suicides that result from it. It’s the whole “they brought it on themselves” mentality that fuels their tainted worldview, and that’s what I feel needs to be addressed.

    Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 1:07pm