So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

State auditor to look at how schools use anti-bullying laws to protect gay students

Bully

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Students from middle and high schools across LAUSD line up at the Nokia Theatre to watch the documentary "Bully." California lawmakers have requested the state auditor examine how schools implement anti-bullying and harassment laws to protect students targeted for their sexual orientation.

California lawmakers today approved a request for a state audit on how schools implement anti-bullying and harassment laws after recent incidents in which students were targeted for their sexual orientation.

Democratic state Assembly members Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens and Betsy Butler of Los Angeles jointly made the request at today's Joint Legislative Audit Committee meeting. It was approved by a 9 to 4 vote, said Julia Svetlana Juarez, a spokeswoman for Lara.

“It’s devastating for a child to feel unsafe in an environment where they are supposed to feel protected," Lara said in a statement. "This audit will help identify gaps in compliance and provide solid recommendations for improvement."

More than 200,000 students in California are harassed each year because they are gay, lesbian or someone thought they were, according to a California Healthy Kids Survey in 2000. These incidents occur despite laws that aim to combat such behavior and improve student safety.

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Calif. lawmakers want to know if anti-bullying laws actually protect gay students

annavanna/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

California lawmakers plan to request a state audit to determine if anti-bullying and harassment laws protect students targeted for their sexual orientation.

California lawmakers plan to request a state audit on how schools and local education agencies apply anti-bullying and harassment laws in response to recent incidents in which students were targeted for their sexual orientation.

Democratic state Assembly members Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens and Betsy Butler of Los Angeles will bring up the issue at a Wednesday meeting of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. The aim is to identify any gaps in enforcement and determine steps to improve how bullying is dealt with, said Julia Svetlana Juarez, a spokeswoman for Lara.

More than 200,000 students in California are harassed each year because they are gay, lesbian or someone thought they were, according to a California Healthy Kids Survey in 2000. These incidents occur despite laws that aim to combat such behavior and improve student safety.

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Ignore the bully, elementary students say

Trinity Street school

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Students take a pledge to "stand up and speak up against bullying" at Trinity Street School, a South Los Angeles elementary school.

Delmy Ruiz, 11, and Arturo Ruiz, 10, (no relation), are fifth graders at Trinity Street School in South Los Angeles. Both have been bullied before. Their response? Ignore the bully.

"One time, I was walking around, and there were these girls that were calling me names," Delmy said. "I just ignored them and I didn't listen to them, and I just walked away. They didn't come back."

Arturo shyly said he also follows the same policy. His two big brothers urge him to ignore bullies at school. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the kids come back and pick on him again.

"I see bullying everywhere," he said quietly. "...Just ignore them, or if it actually gets bad, then tell a responsbile adult."

Trinity Street School is an elementary school of about 500 students between the second and fifth grades located in South Los Angeles. About 98 percent of the students are Hispanic and 2 percent African American. The school is a Title I funded school with all of its students on the free and reduced lunch program, said school principal Marta Jevenois.

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Kids get a lesson in dealing with bullies

Trinity Elementary School

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Students listen to an LAPD officer talk about the dangers of bullying at Trinity Street School, a South Los Angeles elementary school.

The two young bullies raised their hands amid the hundreds of other students in the elementary school auditorium. Kids crooned their necks, rising from their seats for a better view.

“We are going to help you know what to do, and change your behavior,” said Monica Harmon, an LAPD volunteer and public safety advocate, wearing a sparkly “No Bully Zone” tee-shirt. 

Harmon is part of the “Stand Up and Speak Out Against Bullying” campaign. Since February 2011 she has traveled to schools throughout Los Angeles with LAPD officers, talking to roughly 15,000 students at all grade levels about the dangers of bullying.

“A lot of times bullies are being bullied at home…so they come to school and they start picking on one of you kids,” Harmon told the elementary students at Trinity Street School in South Los Angeles.

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