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Ed groups push politicians to tackle bullying

Several education groups are targeting Governor-elect John Hickenlooper and the General Assembly to do more to stop bullying in Colorado schools.

One Colorado, the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the American Federation of Teachers-Colorado and the Colorado Association of School Boards are releasing a letter today calling for the establishment of a statewide Safe Schools Task Force. The task force to assess the effectiveness of current bullying and harassment policies, procedures, and trainings for education personnel, parents and students and to develop recommendations to reduce bullying and harassment in schools.

“In recent months, young people all across the country have taken their own lives after suffering from anti-LGBT bullying,” said Brad Clark, executive director of One Colorado. “Although these tragedies did not happen here in Colorado, harassment, taunting, and violence are pervasive in our schools—despite the policies we have in place.

“We must head off the crisis in Colorado by addressing this problem immediately. As adults, it is our moral responsibility to make schools safe for all our children.”

One Colorado is a statewide organization dedicated to securing and protecting equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Coloradans and their families.

According to the letter, the Safe Schools Task Force will solicit the input and experience of students, parents, and school personnel to develop a report on the state of bullying and harassment in Colorado schools, which will include recommendations to the governor and state legislature on how to move forward.

“Educators are often the first to know about bullying because they witness the impact it has on students,” said Beverly Ingle, president of the Colorado Education Association. “It is vitally important that we first listen to our teachers, principals, and other school personnel to understand how this issue has been taking shape in Colorado -and then train and equip them to confront the problem head-on.”

Elected officials have responded to the call for a statewide Safe Schools Task Force, saying:

“Bullying and harassment must stop in our schools. We all have a responsibility to ensure our youth are safe and protected in our schools,” said Democratic Rep. Sue Schafer. “I call on parents, educators, coaches, youth, and public officials to unite in this important responsibility.”

“As a school board member, a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and a member of the community, I feel it is the responsibility of leaders to be proactive in making sure that every single person is in the safest and most inclusive possible environment at school and in the community,” said Diann Rice, member of the Mesa County Valley School District 51 Board of Education. “We must have policies that truly put these principles into action.”

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