08-15: Bullying focus of town hall meeting

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imageA two-hour town hall meeting on Saturday will focus on bullying, an issue that has gained renewed attention since the April 16 death of a DeKalb County elementary school student.

The statewide gay rights group Georgia Equality is among the groups that make up Georgia Coalition Against Bullying, which is hosting the forum at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta in downtown Atlanta. Organizers want youth to share their experiences on bullying so it can be addressed in schools.

“The issue of bullying is one that affects all communities and only by coming together can we begin to implement the policies and training necessary to prevent a tragedy such as that which happened to Jaheem Herrera (photo) and his family,” Jeff Graham, GE’s executive director, says in a prepared statement.

Herrera committed suicide April 16 after facing gay taunts from classmates at Dunaire Elementary School. A report from the DeKalb County School System concluded Herrera was not taunted and bullied at his elementary school, despite reports from his mother and the parents of classmates. In fact, the report from retired judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, hired by the school system to produce the report, also says that despite repeated use of the word “gay” at the school, students didn’t use the word as a slur.

“It is obvious that our current policies that address bullying are insufficient and that too many children and young adults suffer needlessly as a result. When you have schools districts who publicly state that their position is that ‘gay means happy’ there is obviously a disconnect between those who set policy and those most affected by those policies,” Graham says.

Georgia’s Coalition Against Bullying includes several non-profits, churches and elected officials:

National Action Network
Faith & Community Alliance
Gentle Spirit Church of Atlanta
Georgia Equality
Going Against the Grain Development Institute
State Rep. Carolyn Hugley
State Rep. Alisha T. Morgan
Cobb Immigrant Alliance of Labor of Love
New Order National Human Rights Organization
Motivating People to Action
My Life Foundation
Global Justice Ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches
Our Hope Metropolitan Community Church
Grand Hustle’s K.I.N.G. (Kids In Need of Giving) Foundation

View the event listing for the town hall meeting.

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