Oregon House passes anti-bullying bill by a wide margin

GBLTQ and genderqueer youth are some of the biggest targets for school age bullying so it is with great joy that Basic Rights Oregon reports that the Oregon House just passed HB2599, the Oregon Safe Schools Act, on a 50 to 9 vote.

Jeana Frazzini, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon says of the bill: “Bullying and harassment are far too common in Oregon schools. This proposal will help keep children safe.”

Even so there are 9 representatives that did not think that excessive bullying, which can lead kids to unmanageable levels of stress and depression, was something worth legislating. These are the folks to put of your boo-list:

  • Rep. Berger
  • Rep. Esquivel
  • Rep. Garrard
  • Rep. Hanna
  • Rep. Olson
  • Rep. Richardson
  • Rep. Thatcher
  • Rep. Weidner
  • Rep. Wingard

You can read the entire press release below, courtesy Gay Rights Watch:

(Salem, Oregon) The Oregon House today overwhelmingly approved a proposal to strengthen Oregon’s anti-bullying law. In a 50 to 9 vote, they passed the bill and sent it to the Oregon State Senate.

“Bullying and harassment are far too common in Oregon schools,” said Jeana Frazzini, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. “This proposal will help keep children safe.”

House Bill 2599 would ensure statewide adoption of anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in public schools, create clear notice and complaint procedures and establish a comprehensive approach to address bullying. The proposal strengthens existing statute by clarifying the definition of bullying, adding specific guidelines, and encouraging training programs.

Earlier this month House Education Committee heard testimony from youth with experiences of bullying and harassment.

“I was constantly harassed at school,” said Zach Martinson, now a student at Portland State University and a leader with the Oregon Student Association. He added, “I got too scared to go to school and would beg my mom in the morning to let stay home. “It affected my grades and my psychological well-being.”

This legislation has the support of the Safe Schools for All Youth Coalition — a network of 40 Oregon youth and advocacy organizations, ranging from student groups to disability advocates to ethnic and immigrant associations to the gay and transgender community.

Representative Sara Gelser, Chair of the House Education Committee said, “My phone has been ringing off the hook with heartbreaking stories from families and youth experiencing harassment at school. They need help now. House Bill 2599 is an important step we can take today to give teachers, parents and students more tools to keep every student safe at school.”

Legislators approved amendments to the bill in committee to ensure that schools can effectively implement the policy without impacting the budget. Advocates hope for quick action by the Senate.

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