The United States Commission on Civil Rights has recently delivered a report to Congress and the President titled "Peer-to-Peer Violence and Bullying: Examining the Federal Response," assessing the impact of bullying and violence in schools. The report represents the first time that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has completed an in-depth examination of an equal rights issue that specifically affects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.
GLAAD was contacted by the Commission to submit information on the bullying of LGBT youth in schools. After reviewing numerous submissions from individuals and organizations such as GLAAD and GLSEN, the Commission held a briefing on peer-to-peer violence in schools, with panelists ranging from academics, government officials, attorneys and representatives from advocacy organizations. The final report compiled the submissions and statements in analyzing the role the federal government plays in addressing peer-to-peer discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion, disability, sex and/or LGBT status.
Citing GLAAD and other LGBT advocacy organizations, the Commission noted that current federal laws do not protect students from peer-to-peer harassment that is based solely on sexual orientation, and it recommended heightened involvement by the Departments of Education and Justice in monitoring and tracking complaints. The Commission further urged the Department of Education to use consistent language and provide concrete examples in the guidance documents that it makes available to state and local officials.
This report serves as a step towards determining the extent to which the federal government will be involved in bullying prevention.
The United States Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency established by Congress in 1957. The Commission serves as a national clearinghouse for information in respect to discrimination or denial of equal protection of the laws, and regularly submits reports to Congress and the President.