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Make It Better – Get Congress To Move On Anti-Bullying Legislation

by J. Rudy Flesher on December 6, 2011

in Human Rights,J. Rudy Flesher,Legislation,News,Politics

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In the past week I’ve seen two videos, neither of which were new uploads, go viral across social media and blogs. How many of us, our community members, organizations, and allies, have posted a link to Zach Wahls speaking powerfully for marriage equality before the Iowa House of Representatives and then, this weekend, the heart wrenching video of Jonah Mowry silently testifying to his bullying, set to Sia’s “Breathe Me”? I am floored by the power of such videos to quickly touch a huge audience. And indeed, perhaps that we have a video of Jonah, hurting but determined, points to the possibility that it is getting better. Yet I believe that telling and sharing such stories must propel us to take even more powerful action.

READ: Gay Teen Jonah Mowry: Phenomenon, Fearless, And No Fraud

Quite simply, there are two great bills already written, but they aren’t getting any traction in Congress. Read below or watch the video I’ve made that details how the Safe Schools Improvement Act and Student Non-Discrimination Act can and will improve and even save lives – but only if we raise our voices and ensure that they are passed. Then, share the video. It’s one thing for millions of Americans to feel sympathy for a suffering teen and wish they could do something; imagine how empowering it is to actually know you can do something, and get others to join you. Don’t just make stories go viral – make calling Congress go viral too.

Below is the text from the video, in case you can’t watch it on a phone, at work, etc. Below you will also find the links for finding your the phone numbers for your Congressional representatives, and the script you can use for the call.

Video Text

My name is Rudy, I’m 27 years old, and I live in Philly. I’m queer and I am a survivor of school bullying. Sometimes I was able to stand up to my bullies, and other times I found supportive teachers and administrators to help me out. I was lucky., but the fact is, you shouldn’t have to be lucky just to make it through school alive.

When Dan Savage created the It Gets Better Project in response to the wave of teen LGBT suicides last year, I was glad to lend my time to making a video. But more important than spreading the message that it gets better was finding ways to actually make it better, and that’s what I’m here to do today. However, I can’t do it without your help.

Basically, there are two GREAT bills being considered by Congress right now that would improve the lives of school age LGBT folks all across the country. I’m asking you to call your elected officials and ask them to pass these bills. It’s super easy, and will take less than ten minutes of your time. Seriously. Less than ten minutes, and it will improve and even save lives.

The first bill is the Student Non-Discrimination Act. This bill would expand current civil rights legislation to ensure that LGBT students aren’t discriminated against by teachers or administrators. As somebody who has had to sit through a class with a teacher making gay jokes, I can tell you that sometimes the people who should be protecting us are actually our bullies. This bill would make that illegal, and hold anyone who did discriminate fully accountable.

The second bill is the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would ensure that every school in America had a clear bullying policy, and that it was inclusive of LGBT students. It would also ensure that students had a way to report bullying, and that the schools tracked these reports and shared them annually with students and guardians.

So, now that you know exactly what these two bills will do, here’s how to take action. If you already know the names of your reps in Congress, great, then you’re ahead of the game. If not, just click the link that’s up now to the Capitol switchboard in DC. This page will give you the option of either calling the switchboard and asking for your representatives, or, you can use your zip code to find the names of all three. I think this option is easier, since you’ll want to get the contact info for both Senators plus your Representative in the House and call all three.

Once you have the numbers you’re ready to go. All you have to do is call the offices of your three elected officials and tell them that you support the Student Non Discrimination Act and The Safe Schools Improvement Act. I even have a link up with scripts to use that include the bill numbers to make it an easy call. So, don’t wait. Hit the links now and let Congress know that his is a no brainer. Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or anything in between, making schools safe for all children is an easy choice to make.

Finally, when you’re done, pass this along. Post it on your Facebook, email it to your Aunt Sue, heck, tweet Lady Gaga and ask her to lend her voice as she did with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We can pass these bills and protect all of our children and teens, but only if we raise our voices together.

Scripts to use after finding your representatives’ contact info here:

Senate Script (You will call both Senators from your state.)


“Hello,

My name is __________________________ and I’m calling from_______City, State_______ to express my support for Senate Bill 555, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and Senate Bill 506, the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Can you tell me where Senator _____________ stands on these bills?”

* If the Senator’s staff tells you that the Senator is a co-sponsor of either or both bills: “Thank you and thank Senator _____________ for his/her support.

* If the Senator supports both bills but isn’t a co-sponsor of one or either: “Thank you and thank Senator _____________ for his/her support. I also ask that Senator _____________ consider co-sponsoring these bills in order to build momentum and help them pass.”

* If the Senator doesn’t support the bills: “I’m disappointed to hear that. Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Senator ____________ to reconsider supporting these bills. I will be watching his/her vote.”

* If the office staff isn’t sure: “Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Senator ____________ to support these bills, and to consider co-sponsoring both.”

House of Representatives Script (You only have one Representative to call.)

“Hello,

My name is __________________________ and I’m calling from _______City, State_______ to express my support for House Bill 998, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and House Bill 1648, the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Can you tell me where Representative _____________ stands on these bills?”

* If the Representative’s staff tells you that the Representative is a co-sponsor of either or both bills: “Thank you and thank Representative _____________ for his/her support.

* If the Representative supports both bills but isn’t a co-sponsor of one or either: “Thank you and thank Representative _____________ for his/her support. I also ask that Representative _____________ consider co-sponsoring these bills in order to build momentum and help them pass.”

* If the Representative doesn’t support the bills: “I’m disappointed to hear that. Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Representative ____________ to reconsider supporting these bills. I will be watching his/her vote.”

* If the office staff isn’t sure: “Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Representative ____________ to support these bills, and to consider co-sponsoring both.”


J. Rudy Flesher, a Philadelphia based actor and author, holds a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from The College of New Jersey, and is an award-​winning feminist scholar. Ze blogs here and at The Pistol in Bed Thirteen, works with PhinLi Bookings to connect LGBTQ and sex positive talent with audiences, and is currently writing hir first book, an essay collection on the daily experiences of a genderqueer life.

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