As some of you may already know, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will be holding a hearing on May 13 addressing inter-student violence targeted against LGBT youth. According to Commissioner Roberta Achtenberg, the event is historic as it will be the first time the Civil Rights Commission will host a hearing on an LGBT-related issue. Those who are scheduled to testify include Tammy Aaberg, who lost her son to suicide last July, and Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.
Weve received a specific request from Alec Deull, special assistant to Commissioner Achtenberg, to encourage our members touched by inter-student violence targeted against LGBT youth (and those perceived to be so) to share their stories in writing with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for inclusion in the public record of the Commissions current efforts to address the issue. The Commission defines inter-student violence, as any verbal and physical assaults, teasing, bullying and any other form of harassment.
The goal of the story collection is to build a record from the contributions of people all across the country, which is why I am reaching out to you. If possible, please forward widely this information to your networks, or otherwise share it with anyone whom you think might want to contribute a story. These letters will be an invaluable means for helping the Commission understand the nature, pervasiveness, geographic spread, and negative outcomes of such violence. Stories shared in this way will help to set the stage for testimony and filings by a number of social science, mental health, and legal experts who are contributing to these efforts from their professional perspectives.
The letters need not be formal or in any particular format. Each author is encouraged to write in their own voice and to tell their story in the terms in which it was experienced. The Commission should learn of the personalities of the kids and families involved, the way things happened (or are still happening), what types of people were involved (other students, school staff, and/or others), and what outcomes are being experienced for the student and for the rest of the family. Thoughts about what types of intervention might be helpful to address the causes could be important as well.
In order to humanize this issue as strongly as possible, families and individuals who are comfortable doing so are encouraged to attach a picture to the front of the letter. For those contributors who are not comfortable sharing their identity openly, they should use at least one initial to identify themselves and any people relevant to their stories since the letters will be submitted to the public record. It would be extremely helpful if writers who are maintaining anonymity could at least identify a region of a state in which they live (“eastern Texas,” or “northern New York State,” for example).
Letters should be sent, if possible, by May 1, 2011 for introduction into the Commission’s record in advance of the May 13 hearing in D.C. The letter itself should be addressed to:
Kim Tolhurst, Esq., Acting General Counsel
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
624 Ninth St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001
Please note that the envelope should be addressed and mailed to Commissioner Achtenbergs special assistant, Alec Duell at :
c/o Alec Deull
3102 Krueger Road
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
If you would like more background about the hearing, or if you have any questions regarding the story solicitation request, please contact Alec Deull at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-694-1114, cell 202-607-6900.
J. RHODES PERRY, MPA| Associate Director of Policy and Programs
PFLAG National | 1828 L Street NW, Suite 660 | Washington, D.C. 20036
P: (202) 467-8180 ext. 221 | F: (202) 349-0788|E: RPerry@pflag.org | W: www.PFLAG.org