My name is Merik Castro and I was bullied on a daily basis within the Litchfield Elementary School District, based on my sexual orientation. I was pushed into lockers, called derogatory names, and assaulted, but I was not the only one. I reported the bullying numerous times which left the bullies with the discipline of a "talk" and usually one day of In-School-Suspension (ISS). I wrote a suicide note as a class assignment due to being bullied and was not provided suicide prevention resources and basically was told "Don't do it" by the Assistant Principal. My mother was told by the Superintendent to remove me from school for the last six weeks and to home school me or switch me schools. According the school district's student handbook the bullies are not being disciplined on what they were supposed to receive. It's time that bullies get what they deserve and the district starts taking bullying seriously! If we do not act now, we could soon have a student committing suicide due to the bullying. Bullying affects a child drastically. We can turn around bullying! Bullying is not a phase. We need to insure the safety of students.
What do I want done:
- Ensure that all anti-bullying, anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and anti-intimidation policies specifically include actual and perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Harassment, bullying and intimidation documentation be public
"If a school provides documentation of reported incidents to persons other than school officials or law enforcement, all individually identifiable information shall be reacted." - H.B.2415 http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/hb2415h.pdf Page 6 Line 4-6
- Implement a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation against students and staff.
The board shall consider expulsion of the student and termination of the employee.
- District staff will not engage in or allow bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation conduct.
- District staff will not retaliate against any student or employee for making allegations or filing complaints concerning bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation.
- District staff will not coerce students to enroll in alternative education or independent study programs because they have complained of bullying, harassment, discrimination and/or intimidation.
- Ensure that actual and perceived sexual orientation and gender identity bullying, harassment, discrimination, and intimidation will be treated as a separate category of prohibited conduct, not as a subset of sexual harassment.
- Starting the following school year and going through each school year, training will be mandatory for all administrators, teachers, counselors, and all other employees who monitor student behavior, including campus monitors, bus drivers, and school custodians. Trainings will focus on harassment and discrimination based on bullying/hate speech of any kind (esp. sexual orientation and gender identity) and will include:
· small-group discussions and exercises on how to address bullying/harassment whenever it arises
· how to properly handle, report, and discipline
· a panel presentation by students who can talk about their own experiences witnessing or dealing with bullying/harassment in schools
· discussion of district policies and state and federal laws regarding anti-LGBT harassment
· informing them of their affirmative responsibilities to maintain a safe and learning environment for all students
· the legal obligations of district employees, and
· community resources to aid victims of harassment and discrimination.
Follow-up trainings will include discussion of the climate at district schools, how staff has handled incidents of bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation in the past, and developing strategies for preventing future incidents.
Administrators will receive further training on how to provide guidance to other staff and employees about handling bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation. Each semester, staff will review all district policies and procedures on the reporting and prevention of and responses to incidents bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation, and ensure school safety.
- Starting the following school year and going though each school year, the district will provide a mandatory peer-to-peer training session that focuses exclusively on the subject of preventing bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation. The student trainings will include a review of school policies, including disciplinary policies, and how to report any bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation.
Follow-up trainings each semester, will include discussion of the climate at their school, how students reported bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation in the past, and developing strategies for preventing future incidents.
- Each school and district office will have suicide, bullying, harassment, discrimination and intimidation prevention resources available in a known place and online via their website.
"29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns..."
"84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation."
"63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression."
"Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression."
GLSEN 2009 National School Climate Survey
"As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they're afraid of being bullied. "
"1 out of 4 teens are bullied."
"More youth violence occurs on school grounds as opposed to on the way to school. "
" 80% of the time, an argument with a bully will end up in a physical fight. "
"43% fear harassment in the bathroom at school. "
Stomp Out Bullying Issues of Bullying - Bullying Statistics