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Texas House of Representatives Approval of House Bill 1942

by Karen LaShelle, Executive and Artistic Director

We have some exciting news to share, courtesy of our friends at Equality Texas. On May 24th, the Texas House of Representatives gave final approval to House Bill 1942, relating to bullying in public schools. The House’s final vote to concur with Senate amendments was 118-26. The bill will make its way to Governor Rick Perry, who is expected to sign it into law.

Rep. Diane Patrick (R-Arlington), the primary author of HB 1942 stated, “Parents and children deserve to know they are within safe walls while receiving an education.” She added, “I am especially grateful for the work that Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin) and other House Public Education members contributed to lead this bill to fruition.”

Indeed, the efforts to pass an anti-bullying law have extended over multiple legislative sessions dating back over 15 years to legislation filed by former Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, and current members Reps. Garnet Coleman, Harold Dutton, Mark Strama, Diane Patrick and Senators John Whitmire, Wendy Davis, and Leticia Van de Putte.

But it was the courageous efforts by Texas parents whose children have suffered from bullying that propelled the bipartisan effort in the Texas House and Senate to finally pass meaningful anti-bullying legislation in the wake of recent bullying-related tragedies in Texas and across the country.

Amy and David Truong of Houston lost their son, Asher Brown, eight months ago to bullying-related suicide. The couple has been working tirelessly for passage of the law. “It was a promise I made to Asher the day that he died before his little body left this house,” Amy Truong said. “I told him that I would never stop fighting until we did something to change this.”  David said, “We’ll never let this happen to any other family.”

Equality Texas made anti-bullying legislation its top priority for the legislative session. Executive Director Dennis Coleman stated, “Our 2010 Equality Poll showed overwhelming public support for legislation to address the problem of bullying in schools. We were determined to focus all our efforts to provide school administrators, teachers and parents with tools to create a safe learning environment for every student.”

The new law will:

  • Establish a new bullying definition that includes bullying through electronic means;
  • Integrates awareness, prevention, identification, and resolution of and intervention in bullying into the health curriculum;
  • Provides local school boards with discretion to transfer a student found to have bullied to another classroom or to another campus in consultation with the parent or guardian; and
  • Requires local school districts to adopt and implement a bullying policy that recognizes minimum guidelines such as prohibition of bullying, providing counseling options, and establishes procedures for reporting an incidence of bullying.

The sponsor of HB 1942 in the Senate, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) stated, “Texas could no longer ignore this problem. It was imperative that our state take action and implement the appropriate steps to prevent further unnecessary bullying that unfortunately occurs in our public schools.”

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) added, “The real goal is prevention. We’ve got to hold public school officials accountable when they know about these acts.”
Here at Theatre Action Project, our programs The Courage to Stand and The Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble empower young people to be courageous allies in the face of bullying. Our programs are one part of the changing tide on bullying in our country. We are so pleased to see that policies are changing in Texas and that laws will now be in place to help protect young people.

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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