Teen calls for Tenn. lawmakers to co-sponsor anti-bullying bill

Teen calls for Tenn. lawmakers to co-sponsor anti-bullying bill

Posted:
Brandon Huckaby, 16, is asking lawmakers to co-sponsor a bill that amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which would require public schools to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying, including harassment based on sexual orientation. Brandon Huckaby, 16, is asking lawmakers to co-sponsor a bill that amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which would require public schools to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying, including harassment based on sexual orientation.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Hardin Valley High School student told 6 News he's hoping to spread the message about the need for a federal anti-bullying policy by writing to lawmakers.

Brandon Huckaby, 16, is asking lawmakers to co-sponsor a bill that amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which would require public schools to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying, including harassment based on sexual orientation.

"Please, for the sake of student safety and education, consider sponsoring this bill," Huckaby's letter said. "If you truly care about my peers, you'll ask for testimony about how this has affected youth."

Huckaby sent the letter to Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan.

"Seeing that bullies can get away with what they're doing can be very hard on students, especially when it's continuously done," Huckaby said.

Huckaby is part of the Gay-Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) at his school and candidly writes about how he wants lawmakers to fairly represent him as a gay student.

"I want to feel, as a gay student in Tennessee, that those elected are representing me in the best possible way," Huckaby wrote.

The proposed bill would require each school district to have a comprehensive anti-bullying policy, and most of all, provide a federal standard addressing the bullying problem.

"It'll set guidelines all across the board and then it's not a state by state thing," Huckaby said.

For more information about the bill, you can contact GLSEN National, at (202) 621-5815 or nsmith@glsen.org.

For more information about GLSEN East Tennessee's work, you can contact Brandon Huckaby at bhuckaby@chapters.glsen.org.

Lawmakers React

A spokesperson for Duncan's office said they plan to respond to Huckaby's letter in a timely manner. He said Duncan condemns bullying of any kind and will take a close look at the bill while keeping Huckaby's letter in mind when it comes to a vote.

A spokesperson for Alexander said he does not comment publicly on private correspondence but released this statement on the bill: "Too often children today experience cruel bullying, but the solution to that is not in Washington, D.C. A school can be just as safe as students, teachers, parents and the community want that school to be. I'm glad students are speaking out about bullying, but those who can do the most about it are those who live closest to the student and the school."    

A spokesperson for Corker's office said while Corker understands the importance of addressing bullying, he believes the decisions and programs should be left up to states and local districts.

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