The U.S. Department of Education now regards school bullying as a civil rights issue. As a result, schools have been warned that if they don’t take bullying seriously and work harder to protect students, they could lose their federal aid and face prosecution. On Capitol Hill, at least 23 Democratic senators are supporting and promoting anti-bullying legislation. Nearly 90 percent of middle and high school gay and lesbian students have experienced harassment, and nearly two-thirds of them have felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, according to a survey by the GLSEN.
The New York-based group Freedom to Marry says Anne Hathaway [pic] and Martin Sheen are among a group of actors, athletes and business leaders urging President Barack Obama to support marriage rights for same-sex couples. R&B singer Mya and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey also signed an open letter calling on the president to back gay marriage.
According to the AP, the letter will be delivered to the White House this spring. Obama has said he supports civil unions as an alternative to marriage equality, and his views on the subject are evolving. His administration announced this month that it would no longer defend the federal law barring government recognition of same-sex unions.
Anne Hathaway recently quit Catholicism for her gay brother.
A high school girl will be among a group of young people and parents sharing their suggestions on how to prevent bullying with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. Kimiko Nishitsuji [pic], a 17-year-old, was chosen to attend the conference after being featured in several articles and making an online video for the Make it Better Project. She was bullied when she attended middle school, and said stopping bullying needs to start with the adults. “I’m really excited,” Gabrielino High School junior Kimiko Nishitsuji told reporters. “I feel it’s a great opportunity to spread awareness on such a huge scale of the seriousness of these problems and how much it affects youth.” The meeting is being held in connection with the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, which the Obamas will then speak at in the East Room. The conference will also include Secretary of Heath and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius fielding online questions on bullying prevention and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaking on a national conference call with reporters and at the conference’s wrap-up session.
President Obama and Michelle posted a message on Facebook addressing bullying in US high schools.
The president said it’s something that affects every single young person in our country.
The Obamas released the PSA to raise attention for a special White House conference to prevent bullying. The conference will unite students, teachers and parents to discuss ways to prevent and respond to the estimated 13 million students a year who are bullied in American schools.
“For a long time, bullying was treated as an unavoidable part of growing up but more and more we’re seeing how harmful it can be for our kids, especially when it follows them from their school, their phone, their computer screen,” the president said in the announcement.
President Obama still has us on his mind. Here’s an excerpt of his State Of The Union:
“…Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay.
Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”
President Obama scored a political victory by repealing DADT, calling himself overwhelmed by the enormity of the moment.
Although he recently said his position on gay marriage is “constantly evolving”, Obama has opposed marriage and supported civil unions instead. The President said such civil unions are his baseline. “This is something that we’re going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward,” he said.
He said voters wanted this season of progress, promising to stick with that mission and hoping “my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same.”
Then he served notice to his skeptics by noting, “I am persistent.”
President Barack Obama has appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in history. He’s made an estimated 150 appointments thus far – from agency heads and commission members to policy officials and senior staffers. This surpasses the previous high of about 140 reached during two full terms under President Bill Clinton.
White House spokesman Shin Inouye confirmed the record number, saying Obama has hired more gay officials than the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations combined. He said Obama “is proud that his appointments reflect the diversity of the American public.”
“He is committed to appointing highly qualified individuals for each post,” Inouye said. “We have made a record number of openly LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) appointments and we are confident that this number will only continue to grow.”
Denis Dison – spokesman for the Presidential Appointments Project of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute – lists 124 of the appointees on its website. The remainder are not listed because they are lower-level officials not formally announced by the White House.
The White House Blog: Recently, several young people have taken their own lives after being bullied for being gay – or perceived as being gay – by their peers. Their deaths are shocking and heartbreaking tragedies.
No one should have to endure relentless harassment or tormenting. No one should ever feel so alone or desperate that they feel they have nowhere to turn. We each share a responsibility to protect our young people. And we also have an obligation to set an example of respect and kindness, regardless of our differences.
This is personal to me. When I was a young adult, I faced the jokes and taunting that too many of our youth face today, and I considered suicide as a way out. But I was fortunate. One of my co-workers recognized that I was hurting, and I soon confided in her. She cared enough to push me to seek help. She saved my life. I will always be grateful for her compassion and support – the same compassion and support that so many kids need today.
President Obama is expanding the rights of U.S. gay workers by allowing them to take family and medical leave to care for sick or newborn children of same-sex partners – regardless of whether or not a formal adoption has been processed. Federal law currently does not recognize same-sex relationships – but Obama’s Labor Department believes that people in same-sex relationships should qualify for family and medical leave when they act as parents, sharing the care and support of a child.
The NY Times reports: Under the law, “the term ‘son or daughter’ means a biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.” The law does not define “in loco parentis.” But the relevant federal regulations say, “Persons who are ‘in loco parentis’ include those with day-to-day responsibilities to care for and financially support a child.”
Moreover, the rules say, “A biological or legal relationship is not necessary.”
The White House issued the following proclamation to recognize Father’s Day: “Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian. We owe a special debt of gratitude for those parents serving in the United States Armed Forces and their families, whose sacrifices protect the lives and liberties of all American children. For the character they build, the doors they open, and the love they provide over our lifetimes, all our fathers deserve our unending appreciation and admiration.”
The proclamation is similar to the one issued for Mother’s Day – which recognized families with two mothers.