In May of 2011, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Bullying Prevention Act, one of the nation’s most comprehensive anti-bullying law. The law, which includes LGBT students in the “protected classes,” requires all state school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies.
Colorado LGBT advocacy organization One Colorado, which pushed heavily for the state-wide mandate, asked school districts to present their anti-bullying policies to check how many follow the law. Only 147 of the state’s 178 school districts responded. Of those 147, One Colorado discovered that more than a year after the state bullying mandate was signed, only 37 percent of school districts include sexual orientation in their anti-bullying policies. The group also found that only 62 percent include sexual orientation in their anti-harassment policy, and only 61 percent include the classification in their nondiscrimination policy. “It’s disheartening,” said Brad Clark, executive director of One Colorado.
The study highlights the double-pronged approach required to address school bullying. States must enforce their policies so that they reach their intended aim of preventing the tangible harms of bullying. In a Human Rights Campaign survey released in June, 54 percent of LGBT youth said they had personally been attacked with slurs, and almost half said they did not feel accepted by their community. The survey also found that 21 percent said school bullying was the most important problem in their lives right now.