A House Democrat has introduced legislation that would fund anti-bullying task forces in schools that has been endorsed by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), according to LGBTQ Nation.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced the State Taskforce Opportunity Program (STOP) Bullying Act, which if passed would direct the Department of Education to award grants to states to create anti-bullying task forces in K-12 public schools.
The bill’s goal, according to Krishnamoorthi, was to “make schools safer for all children, regardless of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.”
The task forces would be made of teachers, administrators, parents, students, counselors and child psychologists, lawyers, and representatives from the state education agency.
“Every child should feel safe at school—period,” Krishnamoorthi said in a press release. “Yet bullying and harassment continue to persist in middle and high schools nationwide. Hostile school environments have been proven to have a detrimental effect on the academic success and health of each student.”
LGBTQ students and young people are often the victims of bullying, especially in the current political climate. A study from May 2019 found that homophobic bullying increases when LGBTQ rights are publicly debated, and a study from January 2017 found a nine percent increase in bullying after Donald Trump began his presidential campaign. However, protections for LGBTQ students have decreased; Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rolled back Obama-era protections for transgender students despite knowing that harassment could lead to poor academic performance and depression among transgender students.