The weekend before last week’s Martin Luther King Day, residents of Lampasas, Texas — a rural community about 26 miles from Ft. Hood, with a population of approximately 8,000 — witnessed the civil rights movement first hand when unknown person(s) delivered pro-LGBT and anti-bullying messages to Lampasas Middle School and Lampasas High School.
The messages sprawled the sidewalks, courtyards and even the doors of the school singing to students and faculty to “love, not hate,” and telling teachers, “Teachers, it is your duty to speak out and stand up against bullying.”
According to information obtained from an anonymous source, Lampasas schools were chosen due to reports of a high incident of bullying against LGBT youth.
Last year, the Texas Legislature passed anti-bullying legislation which was largely praised by LGBT rights groups in spite of its lack of enumerated protections. All enumerations of suspect classes were removed from the legislation after it was decided that it could not pass with the inclusion of gender identity.
Although the new law establishes a definition of bullying to include cyber-bullying, added awareness, prevention, identification and resolution/intervention into the health curriculum, and provided local school boards discretion to transfer the student found to have bullied another student to a new classroom or campus, it did not go far enough in protecting children. More specifically, the bill merely required local school districts to adopt and implement a bullying policy that would recognize a minimum set of guidelines to prohibit bullying, provide counseling options and establish procedures for reporting bullying. At no point did the policy expand to include (or exclude) reporting requirements based upon “suspect classes” such as sexual orientation or gender identity. These policies will be left to each of the 1,265 school districts in Texas.
Sources close to the action noted that these pro-LGBT messages are needed to ensure that LGBT children are not ignored as each of the districts begin writing and implementing their local policies.
One source stated, “There is a lot of ground to cover in Texas to prevent bullying against youth, especially LGBT youth. The legislature, by amending the bill prior to passing to exclude suspect classifications for reporting of bullying, de-powered our voices. We can no longer go to the legislature for help. Now we have to go to each of the 1,265 districts and hope they realize the need for inclusiveness. It will be a daunting task when we have to fight tooth and nail for Gay Straight Alliances in schools, as was the case in Flower Bluff.”
Additional photographs from the schools are available on Facebook.
Jay Morris is a State Lead for GetEQUAL.org, a founding member of the Direct Action Network San Antonio and blogger at jaysays.com. You can find him posting randomness on Twitter or engage him in conversation on Facebook.
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