Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011 Page: 10 of 44
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PARENTAL RESPONSE | David and Amy Truong, the parents of 13-year-old gay suicide victim Asher
Brown, became tireless advocates for anti-bullying legislation this year. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
Su icides led to anti-bullying law
4 In the fall of 2010, a number of high-profile
suicides brought attention to the problem
• of bullying in schools. This year, the LGBT
community worked to change laws and save
After helping to push through policies in the
Dallas and Fort Worth school districts, as well as
a few others around the state, the LGBT commu-
nity focused on passing statewide anti-bullying
legislation in the 2011 session of the Legislature.
Equality Texas made the legislation a priority
and a number of bills were introduced.
In February, Equality Texas hosted a Lobby
Day. Several hundred people from around the
State participated. Among them Were Fort Worth
City Councilman Joel Burns, suicide victim Asher
Brown's parents — Amy and David Truong —
and a group of 10 students from Youth First Texas.
Burns and the Truongs met with key legislators
including members of the committees that would
hear the bills. The students from YFT spoke to
their senators and representatives telling their
own stories of being bullied. Legislators not usu-
ally considered allies were visibly moved by sto-
ries of violence in schools in their hometowns.
Equality Texas board chair Anne Wynn, Exec-
utive Director Dermis Coleman and Deputy Di-
rector Chuck Smith spent the spring lobbying on
behalf of the bills.
The organization arranged for the Truongs as
well as the parents of Montana Lance and Jon
Carmichael, two other Texas suicide victims, to
testify at committee hearings.
As originally crafted, the bills specified cate-
gories that would be covered. National studies
have shown that the more specific the law, the
more effective it is in protecting LGBT students.
When sexual orientation and gender identity are
not specified, school staff often ignore anti-gay
bullying. But to increase the chances that anti-bul-
lying legislation would pass, several bills were
combined and all references to specific groups, in-
cluding sexual orientation and gender identity,
The new anti-bullying "super bill" passed
unanimously in the Senate and by a wide margin
in the House — and was eventually signed by Re-
publican Gov. Rick Perry.
Under the new law, for the first time, the bully
rather than the victim can be transferred to an-
other classroom or school. Parental notification
rules were strengthened and protections added
for the person reporting the bullying. The defini-
tion of bullying now includes electronic means, or
cyberbullying. And every school district must
adopt an anti-bullying policy, including any nec-
essary procedures to address the prevention, in-
vestigation and reporting of incidents.
A second bill also passed that provides money
for counseling services, which includes services
for both the bully and the victim. School staff al-
ready receive training to recognize potential sui-
cide risks. That training will be expanded to
include victims of bullying.
Meanwhile, although the Dallas Independent
School District approved an LGBT-inclusive anti-
bullying policy last year, Resource Center Dallas
and Lambda Legal accused some DISD officials
of blocking its implementation.
RCD Executive Director and CEO Ceee Cox
along with Lambda Legal community educator
Omar Narvaez addressed the DISD board about
the problem in December.
Cox said she had gotten word from frustrated
school district employees that principals were:
being instructed not to use the electronic reporting
.system that the board mandated. She said she
would continue to track the district's compliance
with the policy in 2012.
— David Tajfet
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011, newspaper, December 30, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239200/m1/10/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.