June 28, 2012
Remarks From GLSEN’s Eliza Byard at House Anti-Bullying Caucus Launch
Today GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard is in Washington, D.C. to moderate a panel at the launch of the new congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus. Be sure to check back later for a recap of all of the day’s events. For now, here are Dr. Byard’s opening remarks:
I’m privileged to moderate this panel focused on “Adult Roles and Responsibilities” in preventing bullying. While bullying is an act perpetrated by one or more students against another, the culture of a school that gives rise to such behavior is created and perpetuated by the adults in charge. Ultimately, parents, teachers, and school administrators must take up their responsibility to ensure that all students feel safe at school and understand the school’s commitment to a healthy learning environment for all.
GLSEN is proud to partner with brave student advocates who are a leading force to end bullying and harassment through GLSEN’s Day of Silence, the largest student-led Day of Action in the nation, and No Name-Calling Week, celebrated in tens of thousands of classrooms across the country. However, students will not be able to solve this problem alone, nor is it fair to expect them to.
In many schools, students are not receiving the support they deserve. 80 percent of LGBT students report that when a teacher or other school staff member witnesses anti-LGBT bullying, they do little or nothing to stop it. Most LGBT students who experience harassment do not bother to report their experiences because they do not expect to receive effective help. The most common experience of those who do report is that nothing happens.
GLSEN’s research indicates that the presence of supportive staff in a school is one of the most important factors in the quality of a student’s life. One supportive adult can save a life. Six or more can change a culture.
Clearly, more must be done to help ensure that adults set the right tone, intervene appropriately, and contribute to a culture of Respect for All. GLSEN stands ready to support the work of this caucus with proven programs that increase the level and visibility of adult support for all students.
Many members of this caucus have taken one of the most important steps they can, by signing on to the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act, setting a national standard for the baseline of safety that every student should enjoy. Most of the organizations represented on these panels today stand with you in support, as members of GLSEN’s National Safe Schools Partnership. On behalf of GLSEN and the partnership, I thank you for all you are doing to address this national problem.