Friday, October 15, 2010

Title IX and bullying

We have been fairly silent on the recent spate of anti-gay bullying. It is not from indifference--rather we have been very concerned and somewhat at a loss as to what to say. We have commented previously on bullying, both anti-gay bullying and bullying that can be construed as sexual harassment. For some reason, I had thought the publicity around previous cases signaled a greater awareness and might possibly lead to a reduction in these incidents. And perhaps it has. Perhaps we have just experienced an unfortunate, concentrated period of anti-gay violence, and the programs and awareness that have been created will move us out of this violence. But I also know that as much publicity as these cases have received, there are less extreme cases (or outcomes) happening daily in American schools.
I was glad to finally see some commentary on the role of Title IX in preventing bullying. And John Merrow, at the Huffington Post, went directly to the source: Dr. Bernice Sandler.
The following is an excerpt from Merrow's post that includes quotes from Sandler.

The federal law known Title IX (1972) prohibits sexual harassment, and most bullying falls into that category. "Most cyberbullying and other forms of bullying, as well, include sexual references. Girls are called "sluts" and "hos," boys are called "fags' and other sexual names. Sexual rumors and comments are frequent."

Dr. Sandler says Title IX requires schools to act, no matter where the cyberbullying occurs. "This federal law also prohibits these behaviors outside the school, as when personal computers are used, and when the behavior is disruptive to learning, such as affecting a student's ability to partake of the opportunities for learning in school as well as partaking in other school opportunities provided by the school. Schools have an obligation to stop sexual bullying when it occurs and to have a policy that prohibits it."