GLSEN, Sirdeaner Walker, Advocate for National Anti-Bullying Bill
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network or GLSEN – and the mother of an eleven year-old who committed suicide last year after being relentlessly bullied – marked the anniversary of the boy’s death by pushing for a national anti-bullying bill. One year ago Tuesday, Carl Joseph Walker Hoover took his own life after enduring severe anti-gay bullying. His mother, Sirdeaner Walker, has become an anti-bullying activist. Walker and GLSEN are asking Congress to pass the “Safe Schools Improvement Act.” Eliza Byard is GLSEN’s Executive Director.
Byard: “The safe schools improvement act would require almost every single school in the country to have in place an anti-bullying policy that specifically names some of the most enduring bias-related forms of bullying.”
Carl was one of two sixth-graders who were driven to suicide by bullying last year – the other was Jaheem Hererra from Georgia. Byard says kids need to be made aware of the harm that anti-gay bullying can cause, very early on.
Byard: “Anyone who thinks that nine, ten, and eleven year-olds in this country nave not hear the words ‘faggot,’ and ‘dyke’ and ‘sissy’ and ‘that’s so gay’ has their heads firmly in the sand. We are talking about intervening in a conversation that’s already happening. We are not talking about introducing a new topic.”
The Safe Schools Improvement Act would also require schools to report all incidents of bullying, so that they can be tracked. The measure is sponsored by Representative Linda Sanchez from California.