On May 13, 2011, for the first time in history, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will host a ground-breaking hearing addressing inter-student violence (including, verbal and physical assaults, teasing, bullying and any other form of harassment) targeted against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.
A 2009 study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network surveyed middle and high school students across the country and found that nine out of ten students reported experiencing harassment at their school within the past year based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, two-thirds said they felt unsafe at school because of who they are.
Harassment to LGBT individuals is a violation of their right to security of person and freedom from discrimination. All individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights-without exceptions.
Those who are scheduled to testify at the hearing include; Tammy Aaberg, who lost her son to suicide last July, and Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.
If you have been affected or touched by inter-student violence targeted against LGBT youth, you can make your voice heard. Send the Commission your personal stories to help them understand the “nature, pervasiveness, geographic spread, and negative outcomes” of such violence. Your stories will convey a strong and moving message of the personal consequences of inter-student violence.
Tips for writing your story:
- Stories should be in your own voice. Do not worry about being formal.
- Share details such as the personalities of the kids and families involved, the way things happened (or are still happening), what types of people were involved (other students, school staff, and/or others), and what outcomes are the student and the families experiencing as a result of these events.
- If you feel comfortable, please attach a photo of yourself to your letter as it will help humanize the issue to the Commission.
- Include at least one initial to identify yourself and other individuals in your story. Or include the region you are from. For instance, “Eastern Texas” or “Northern New York State.”
The letter itself should be addressed to:
Kim Tolhurst, Esq., Acting General Counsel
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
624 Ninth St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001
Letters should be sent, if possible, by May 1, 2011 for introduction into the Commission’s record in advance of the May 13 hearing in D.C.
Please note that the envelope should be addressed and mailed to Commissioner Achtenberg’s special assistant, Alec Duell at :
c/o Alec Deull
3102 Krueger Road
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
Make your voice heard and help end bullying. No one should be afraid to go to school because of who they are.