Our View: Adopt anti-bullying act

By Olivia Schares 2008

Last year, an openly lesbian Waterloo West High School student faced more than just the common pressures of adolescence. She was the target of nearly constant harassment by some of her peers because of her sexual orientation. She had to endure being called hurtful names, receiving threatening notes in her locker and even occasional physical assault.

Even though she reported these problems to school administrators, they did very little to take care of the situation. This example of administrative unresponsiveness to a serious harassment situation is only one of the many examples of this sort of injustice that occurs in schools all across the state.

On Dec. 11, the Waterloo School Board will vote on an enumerated district-wide policy, similar to the one that the Cedar Falls School District approved six years ago. This policy would protect various groups of students who are frequent targets of bullies.

Even if this action fails, there is still hope for Iowa students. The Anti-Bullying Act, a statewide bill that was on the agenda for the Iowa legislature last year, states that “the state of Iowa is committed to providing all students with a safe and civil school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect.” The bill goes on to further state that protected “trait or characteristic of the student includes, but is not limited to, age, color, creed, national origin, race, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political party preference, socioeconomic status, or familial status.” This particular bill was narrowly defeated last year, but will be reintroduced to the Iowa legislature for this upcoming year, and due to changes in the legislature, it will likely pass.

The Tiger Hi-Line editors feel that the safety of students is inherently one of the most essential components to a quality education. We feel that it is the responsibility of school districts and lawmakers to do everything in their power to protect their students from harassment, and we especially support these anti-discrimination policies because of their inclusive nature that will help prevent administrative apathy to the serious problem of harassment. We see these policies as a large step toward ensuring a safe climate in our schools for all students.

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