Laufersweiler, a senior at Lassiter High School, says he was bullied when he was younger, including being called anti-gay slurs. He is working with the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition to spread the word to school board officials that a policy to protect students from bullying.
In an April 4 Marietta Daily Journal article Laufersweiler said, “Where I did experience trouble was in fifth grade and middle school. You hear the basic derogatory terms, and I can say, for me, it made it a lot more difficult to accept my sexual orientation and my identity as a person.
“At my school, the weapons policy does not say zero weapons. It says ‘including the following weapons,'” Lauferswieler added. “That’s kind of what we’re trying to do with this bullying policy — make it more of a proactive policy and not as reactive. Our concern is the more subtle things that will make a student feel less safe, less comfortable in their learning environment.
“The heterosexual student who is called a ‘fag’ may not be insulted, but the student who’s not heterosexual who’s in the room may not feel as comfortable,” Laufersweiler said.
The Marietta Daily Journal also quoted gay student activist Alex Oxford, a Wheeler High School student who organized last year’s National Kiss-In Campaign at Piedmont Park for same-sex couples.
“With a [anti-bullying] policy like this, it protects the students a lot more, and it takes the possibility of bias out of those in power,” Oxford said.
Laufersweiler along with members of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and also Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, also met recently with a Cobb County school board member to discuss enacting an anti-bullying policy in the district. CBS Atlanta did a story on that meeting — although the station did not mention he was gay. The segment is included below.
After a statewide anti-bullying bill sponsored by Republican Mike Jacobs that was lobbied for by Georgia Equality seemed to die in the state House late last month, it was revived and now must go to the Senate for discussion. If approved there the bill will go to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Click here to watch a video of CBS Atlanta reporting on school bullying.
[Clarification from Maru Gonzales of GSSC: “Cobb already has an anti-bullying policy. What GSSC is doing is pushing for an enumerated policy, one that includes categories for sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression. The bill in the General Assembly does not include enumeration so we’re hoping that the progress being made in Cobb will have repercussions throughout the state.”]
Photo: Austin Laufersweiler courtesy Georgia Safe Schools Coalition