School bullying claims another victim

The critical need to end the pervasive bullying and harassment in our nation’s schools is all too evident once again following the tragic news coming out of Greenburg, Ind. According to media reports, teenager Billy Lucas died by suicide last week reportedly after repeated harassment in school. Sources say Lucas, 15, was the victim of bullying and being made fun of for his perceived sexual orientation. Read more on Towleroad and JoeMyGod. There is a related memorial page on Facebook.

For some young people, going to school is tantamount to a daily dose of torture. Youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender — or simply perceived to be — are often the targets of this abuse. This must end. Our schools, communities and country must say enough is enough.

The Task Force is advocating for the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), an amendment to the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act that will require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt policies that prohibit bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

SSIA would help schools deal with bullying and harassment that target a student’s actual or perceived identity or associations with persons or groups on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, national origin, sex, disability or religion. Lucas’ story is sadly all too common and it is critical Congress pass this measure — young lives are depending on it. Please contact your members of Congress and encourage them to co-sponsor this important legislation.

Read more about the work of the Task Force and our partners in the National Safe Schools Partnership coalition to fight for an end to bullying here and here.