The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) is applauding the passage by the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of a resolution that will help combat harassment and bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. The “LGBT and Sexual Orientation Anti-Bullying Resolution” is expected to provide a safer school environment for LGBT teens by promoting positive images of LGBT people and including age-appropriate LGBT-related material in the curricula for elementary and secondary students.
James Gilliam, ACLU/SC Deputy Executive Director and Director of the Seth Walsh Students’ Rights Project, testified at the board’s meeting to underscore the importance of this resolution to LGBT students who often find themselves victims of aggressive harassment and bullying.
“I work daily with mothers who lost their children to suicide,” said Gilliam. “Years of bullying in classroom, in the hallways, on the bus, in the cafeteria, led those kids to end the torture the only way they saw possible – by taking their own lives. Studies show that bullying drops the more students know about the contributions of LGBT individuals. This resolution will have a real impact on the environment on campus. Something like it might have saved teens like Seth Walsh, Michael Berry, Carl Walker Hoover, and so many others.”
ACLU/SC initiated the Seth Walsh Students’ Rights Project earlier this year, with the goal of stopping bullying and harassment in California schools and creating school communities that promote safety and respect for all students. The Project is named for 13-year old Seth Walsh, a Tehachapi student who took his own life after years of severe anti-gay bullying and harassment.
The resolution also reminds staff of their duty to ensure the safety of all students on campus, and to intervene when they witness acts of anti-LGBT harassment. It mandates the training of all LAUSD staff in the unique concerns of LGBT students, as well as what legal responsibilities educators have to keep them safe.