The D.C. City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an anti-bullying bill on first reading, with Council members expected to approve the measure in a final vote at their next session later this month.
The Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 calls on the city’s public schools system, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the city’s public libraries, and the University of the District of Columbia to develop comprehensive anti-bullying policies.
The bill, among other things, creates a bullying task force to consist of experts and representatives of various constituencies to monitor the implementation of the legislation. It strictly prohibits retaliation against a target of bullying or someone who reports an incident of bullying.
Council Chair Kwame Brown (D-At-Larger) called the measure a strong bill “that will send a message to the entire city that we will not tolerate bullying or harassment of anyone.”
LGBT advocates, who supported the bill and lobbied the Council to strengthen some of its provisions, said it would play an important role in easing the longstanding problem of bullying experienced by LGBT youth in the city’s public schools.
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who chairs the committee that last month completed work on the bill, told his Council colleagues just before the vote that an impediment in lining up funding needed to pay for the bill’s implementation had been resolved.
“A 2009 survey found that 25 percent of our LGBT middle school students reported being bullied in school because someone thought they were gay,” Wells said in discussing the need for the bill.