Saturday, 19 November 2016

Gay Litchfield Park student seeks help from Surprise-based group for bullying issues

Many children are teased, but imagine being verbally harassed on a daily basis in middle school.
A Wigwam Creek Middle School student says that's what happened to him because he is gay. His classmates wrote gay slurs on his Facebook page. He was targeted in the cafeteria, on the playground and in class. He's afraid to ride the bus.

 bullying issues

The excelling student let his grades slip and after the torment was too much to handle, wrote a suicide note.

But instead of following through, he sought help. The middle-school student and his parents, who The Republic is not identifying to protect the child's identity, met with administrators and counselors. The bullies got detention, but things didn't get better, said the family.

That's when the student contacted Gays and Lesbians United against Discrimination, a Surprise-based organization founded by 16-year-old Caleb Laieski.

His mission is to make sure students get the protection "all students deserve," he said.
Half of all students admit they bullied someone in the past year, and about 47 percent say they were bullied, teased or taunted in a way that seriously upset them, according to a 2010 study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics.
About 85 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students reported being harassed at school, according to a survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. School officials said there are several programs on campus to stop bullying, and they try to stop verbal and physical harassment.

The district superintendent is researching the possibility of a language to its policy specifically prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Reaching out to the school

Laieski said the middle-school boy sought him out on Facebook and asked for help on March 18 after the child was Cyber Bullied. Three days later, Laieski sent a letter on behalf of the student to top administrators at Litchfield Elementary School District and Wigwam Creek.

Laieski wrote that administrators are "failing to intervene" when the child is bullied and they "are not providing adequate discipline to deter or put an end to" the bullying.

He asked for the school and district to increase staff training, involve students in bullying prevention and change the district's anti-discrimination policy to specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The school and district said administrators responded to the letter immediately. Wigwam counselor Cyndee Head said she spoke with the boy after the letter was sent and Superintendent Julianne Lein said the issue is resolved.

"We addressed it as soon as we received the e-mail. We did speak with the student and their parents," Lein said. "It was my understanding that the parents did not support the organization contacting the district. However, the disagreement between the two students, it occurred on Facebook and was resolved."

The boy's parents said they support the letter and organization.

"The day the letter went out is the day my son came out pretty much. Caleb has been a blessing in our lives and I am thankful that he reached out to my son," the mother said.
"If it wasn't for Caleb, I don't know where things would be. I think it's terrible that the administration says we don't support his organization."

School officials decline to comment on specifics, including action taken on the cyber-bullying incident, but Wigwam Creek Principal Dave Mayer said the school does not "condone cyber bullying, physical bullying, or verbal harassment."

The school teaches students about character and citizenship and provides several anti-bullying programs on campus, he said.

Bullying didn't stop

Mayer initially said the school officials didn't know about the student's bullying problems.

"We try to be proactive. We were unaware of what was even occurring," Mayer said. "So in the e-mail when he (Caleb Laieski) said it was happening numerous times and nothing was being done, that's totally inaccurate, because they (the family) never said a thing."

In a later interview, Mayer said the family talked to the advisors about bullying.

"They have dealt with issues on that. They talked with other kids involved in some of these incidents. They talked to other parents of the kids involved," he said. "I particularly, I haven't. But my staff has."

The boy's mother said the family has met with counselors and the assistant principal about the suicide note, declining grades and bullying.

The boy said he hoped the bullying would stop after Laieski sent the letter. But it hasn't. He said it's a daily struggle on campus.

Mayer said the school staff tries to be vigilant but needs students' help in stopping bullying at the 900-student campus.

Lein, the superintendent, said she will research changing the district's discrimination policy to specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity "and its appropriateness for elementary schools." Laeski said adding those specific protections is important.

"We're asking that they protect sexual orientation because as long as we have those protections on the books, then we can make sure that all students are safe under the book. Then it's a matter of intervention," he said.

Source by:


Post a Comment