Along with President Barack Obama, the NEA and AFT are launching their own programs to address bullying. The NEA’s “Bully-Free: It Starts With Me” asks teachers to sign a pledge that says they will listen to bullied students who approach you and take action to stop the bullying. The AFT’s “See A Bully -- Stop a Bully” involves posters and wristbands for teachers that provide a signal to students that they can talk to the person wearing one about being bullied.
At Thursday’s conference at the White House addressing the issue, AFT President Randi Weingarten said the bullying problem hit home for her when she gave a speech a few years ago in New York, in which she publicly stated she was gay. After the speech, students who had been taunted for their sexual orientation or had been hiding it for fear of being harassed, flocked to her, some in tears.
“You have given visibility to me,” she remembered them telling her. You “allow me to be out.”
She said her organization has ordered 20,000 of the rubber bracelets. She told the story at a break-out session of the conference that included the parents of Ty Field, an 11-year-old from Oklahoma who killed himself last year after being bullied.
She gave Ty’s father, Kirk Smalley, one of the bands. He gave her one in return that read “I am somebody.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.