By Sheena Kadi, MBA – she/her/hers
One Colorado & One Colorado Education Fund
One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families released the following statement from One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos, and Youth Program Coordinator, Jordan Anthony, on bullying prevention in Colorado schools during LGBTQ Education Week, recognized from September 30th – October 4th, 2019 and during National Bullying Prevention Month, recognized during the month of October.
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“Bullying doesn’t end with the school day, which is why addressing cyberbullying is a critical component of creating anti-bullying policies. The Colorado Department of Education’s model bullying prevention and education policy defines several key takeaways for combating bullying in schools. The model policy cites the importance of the inclusion of student voices, an understanding of the power dynamics of bullying, and data-driven steps to combat bullying,” says Daniel Ramos, Executive Director.
“What isn’t known can’t be fought against, which is why the data collection procedures of the model policy will help inform future efforts in the fight against bullying. This model of data collection may also support educators and administrators in implementing targeted interventions in their school community,” says Jordan Anthony, Youth Program Coordinator.
Ashawnty’s Law was passed in 2018 in response to the death by suicide of an elementary student, Ashawnty Davis. The bill authorized the research and development of a model bullying prevention policy, which was finalized in July of this year. The model policy has been made available to Colorado districts, charter schools, and the Charter School Institute.
The model policy trains educators in bullying prevention, encourages youth-serving professionals to intervene immediately when witnessing bullying, involves families in bullying prevention efforts, integrates student voices into bullying prevention processes, utilizes data to problem solve, and creates a school-wide culture (inclusive of educators and administration) that opposes any form of bullying.
According to the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, queer youth are bullied at much higher rates than their non-LGBTQ peers. Almost one-third (31.2%) of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth reported being bullied on school property in the previous year, compared to 16.6% of non-LGB youth. LGB youth are bullied at roughly two times the rate of their non-LGB peers. Due to data limitations of the 2017 survey, statistical modeling for the transgender student population was not available. This gap in data shows the importance of collecting gender identity information in addition to sexual orientation information in youth health data collection efforts.
For additional information about Ashawnty’s Law, please visit the Colorado Department of Education website at https://www.cde.state.co.us/