September 21, 2012
The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) has sent a letter to Orange County schools seeking their collaboration to end bullying, which plagues many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students. The harassment and torment of bullies has significantly impacted the climate at several local schools, as well as the emotional and physical well-being of LGBTQ students.
The letter, mailed late yesterday, invites schools in Orange County to collaborate with the ACLU/SC and its LGBTQ Student Rights Project to end bullying. The project was founded to stop the unlawful bullying in California schools and to create school communities that promote safety and respect for all students.
The letters were sent to all Orange County schools because of the nature of the intakes the ACLU/SC receives from students and parents from the region. For example, last spring, school administrators publicly reprimanded a Fullerton Union High School student for exercising his first amendment rights by saying he hoped marriage for same-sex couples would be legal in California in 10 years.
“During the past few years, society has focused more attention on the bullying LGBTQ students are experiencing in schools,” said James Gilliam, director of the ACLU/SC’s LGBTQ Student Rights Project and its deputy executive director. “It is up to school administrators to protect victims of bullying. Collaborating with organizations such as ours that can offer them the tools they need to address this serious problem is necessary because, as a community, we must all do everything we can to ensure the bullying stops.”
“A dialogue can be the solution to many problems,” said Belinda Escobosa Helzer, director of the Orange County office of the ACLU of Southern California. “Collaboration and empowering teachers is a healthy alternative for the community, rather than finding a solution for this problem in the courtroom.”