Wednesday, March 23, 2011

HB 944: Require School Health Advisory Councils to Address Bullying

HB 944 by Dawnna Dukes (D-Travis County) would require Local School Health Advisory Councils to annually issue a report containing recommendations on their school district's "policies, programs, and resources on dating violence, bullying, and sexual harassment". It would also allow school boards to appoint representatives from local domestic violence programs to their Advisory Council.

School Health Advisory Councils were created in 1995 as a way for parents and community members to provide input on school's physical education and health curriculum. The code requires that at least half the members of the council, including the chair, be parents and allows school boards to also appoint other community members, including students. Councils currently create annual reports with recommendations to the school board on how to improve the curriculum.

There is nothing in the current code that would preclude a counsel from making recommendations on its school's approach to dating violence, bullying and sexual harassment, nor is there anything currently stopping local school districts from appointing experts on domestic violence intervention to the council. So HB 944 does not dramatically change the current situation, nor would it require local school districts to do anything to address the torturous conditions that so many queer kids endure in public schools. At the same time, adding language specifically directing the counsels to address these important decisions is a step, all be it a baby step, in the right direction.

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