The Obama administration is launching a campaign to prevent anti-gay bullying and other harassment at school, advising educators that federal law protects students from many forms of discrimination. The Washington Post says an advisory from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is the most comprehensive federal guidance to date on how civil rights law applies to the sort of campus situations that in some cases have led persecuted students to commit suicide. “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage,” said President Obama.
Russlyn Ali, assistant education secretary for civil rights, said that if, for example, a gay student is subjected to anti-gay slurs and other intimidation, a school must “take immediate and effective action to eliminate the hostile environment.” Kenneth Trump, a Cleveland-based school safety expert, complained that the Obama administration was acting at the behest of gay-rights advocates to convert bullying into a civil-rights issue. The result, charged Trump, “is a skewed federal policy and funding on bullying and school climate, with a minimization on violence and other aspects of school safety.”