Since Colorado lawmakers passed legislation to address bullying in schools in 2011, programs to combat it have grown from 37 percent of the state’s 178 school districts to more than 80 percent, and gay-straight alliances are now in 196 schools and available to 167,964 students.
The presence of gay-straight alliances cut bullying numbers in half, according to the report released Wednesday by One Colorado, the state’s largest and politically engaged organization for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents and their families.
The report, “Safe Schools for LGBTQ Students: A Look Back at Colorado’s Anti-Bullying Efforts,” is available online.
The report states:
Colorado has come a long way in the past 6 years to make a positive impact in our schools for many students, but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure all students, including LGBTQ students, feel safe, welcome, and empowered to make change. There is a high demand for educator trainings, resources for educators who want to include LGBTQ topics in the classroom, and best practices for engaging young people in activities for LGBTQ and allied students.
One Colorado looked at bullying statistics over the six years since the legislature passed House Bill 1254.
The bill had broad bipartisan supporting, passing the House 47-18 and the Senate 33-2.
One Colorado released a statement with the report Wednesday morning:
We know bullying is still prevalent in our schools, both in urban and rural areas, and LGBTQ young people are still among the most vulnerable to harassment and violence. One of the first ways school districts can tackle this issue is to make sure their policies explicitly enumerate protections for students based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. One Colorado’s report shows that in addition to comprehensive anti-bullying policies, allowing students access to Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), supportive educators, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can create a more supportive environment for young people.
By issuing reports like this, One Colorado hopes schools will make it a priority to ensure all students are successful, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We hope students and parents in places without updated policies will work with their school districts to make sure their anti-bullying efforts are LGBTQ-inclusive. The report also serves as a resource to help school districts identify the greatest needs of LGBTQ young people, and focus the necessary resources required to address them, in ways that are most effective.
One Colorado is dedicated to a future where every young person in our state has a school environment where they feel safe, welcome, and empowered to make change. It is important we continue to work with school districts, administrators, educators, and students to build a climate across our state where LGBTQ students can be out and respected in their schools.
In the session that ended in May legislators added harassment against LGBTQ people and the disabled to the state’s hate crime law.
House Bill 1188 also had bipartisan support, passing the Senate, 23-12, and the House, 48-15.
One Colorado pushes every year, but it hasn’t been able to pass a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors. While proponents of a ban say it is discredited and dangerous for young people struggling with their sexual identity, Republicans say the bill gets between parents and what they think is best for their child.