Civil rights and gay rights advocates ramped up pressure on the Obama Administration and Congress to force all state and local education institutions to enact “inclusive” anti-bullying and harassment policies.
Civil Rights Special Interests Advocate Federal Bullying Laws and Actions
A group of more than 70 civil rights organizations including The Leadership Conference, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, proposed nine recommendations for federal action to combat bullying and harassment in response to “the deaths of four teens who had been reportedly subjected to harassment and bullying based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.”
Specific federal action called for by the advocates include:
- “…the enactment of comprehensive legislation focusing on inclusive anti-bias education, hate crime prevention, and bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment education, policies, training, social and emotional learning, and school-wide positive behavior supports and early intervention initiatives. Anti-bullying and harassment provisions should be included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and other appropriate legislative vehicles.
- The Department of Justice and the Department of Education should more aggressively use existing authority to enforce current civil rights protections – including Title VI, Title IX, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
- Federal agencies should discourage improper school use of exclusionary discipline practices.
- Government leaders should use their bully pulpit to build awareness of the national problem of school-based bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment and should condemn bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and bias-motivated violence whenever and wherever it occurs.”
The proposals by these special interest groups pose serious implications and questions for school safety policy and funding at the federal and local levels.
- How would/will federal action, some of which is already underway such as the expanded role of federal civil rights offices investigating local school bullying cases, impact the ability of local school boards, superintendents, and principals to administer discipline and school climate strategies?
- Is an expanded federal reach into dictating school safety bullying mandates beneficial or harmful to school safety at the local level?
- Is federal school safety policy and funding skewed heavily to bullying and harassment counterproductive to efforts to develop a comprehensive and balanced approach to school safety?
- Should special interest group social and political agendas be allowed to dictate federal policy on local school safety, discipline, and climate strategies?
What say you?
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