Friday, April 24, 2009

Equality in the News: April 19 - 24, 2009

Wes here with this week's news roundup. Nationally, things have been very exciting with justice for transgender hate crime victim Angie Zapata, Connecticut makes same-sex marriage official, and the federal hate crimes bill passing a major hurdle all this week! Plus our colleagues in Iowa, Maine and New York launched great videos to support their marriage equality campaigns. And now, the rumblings around our neck of the woods...

  • Our friend Sarah Preston of the ACLU has a great post up over at NC Policy Watch about the need to pass the Healthy Youth Act and the School Violence Prevention act.
  • The Raleigh News & Observer's Under the Dome blog has an interesting article on a bill concerned with gender neutrality in state laws. What are the implications of this with marriage? Find out here.
  • CNN has a moving account of Jaheem Herrera's mother speaking out after bullying drove him to suicide. Will the NC legislature act to address bullying before a child dies in our state?
  • Commissioners in Hoke County unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Marriage Discrimination Amendment this week. The Fayetteville Observer has the story.
  • You probably heard that one of our very own, Kristen Dalton, is now Miss USA, but more than likely, you heard more about Miss California's ...interesting response to Perez Hilton's question on her views of same-sex marriage. We're going to avoid the whole judgment mess that's going on with those two right now, but you might be proud to hear what Kristen Dalton thinks about same-sex unions.
  • Another Letter to the Editor mentioning our radical homosexual agenda, this time out of Spring Hope, NC in the Spring Hope Enterprise. You can read that here. If you're from the area, perhaps you could write a letter of your own that refutes the myths that pervade that letter!
  • Q-Notes has an article about Ted Haggard coming to town on Sunday, April 26. If that's your sort of thing, you can check that out here.
That about does it for this week. If you happen to find an interesting article regarding Equality's work here in North Carolina, feel free to send me a tip. Stay cool this weekend! See you next Friday!


  1. "School Violence Prevention Act." is worth nothing if it can't "prevent" school violence. Research has determined that from the Moment of Commitment (the point when a student pulls their weapon) to the Moment of Completion (when the last round is fired) is only 5 seconds. If it is the intent of a school district to react to this violence, they will do so over the wounded and/or slain bodies of students, teachers and administrators.

    Educational institutions clearly want safe and secure schools. Administrators are perennially queried by parents about the safety of their schools. The commonplace answers, intended to reassure anxious parents, focus on the school resource officers and emergency procedures. While useful, these less than adequate efforts do not begin to provide a definitive answer to preventing school violence, nor do they make a school safe and secure.

    Traditionally school districts have relied upon the mental health community or local police to keep schools safe, yet one of the key shortcomings has been the lack of a system that involves teachers, administrators, parents and students in the identification and communication process. Recently, colleges, universities and community colleges are forming Behavioral Intervention Teams with representatives from all these constituencies. Higher Education has changed their safety/security policies, procedures, or surveillance systems, yet K-12 have yet to incorporate Behavioral Intervention Teams. K-12 schools continue spending excessive amounts of money to put in place many of the physical security options. Sadly, they are reactionary only and do little to prevent aggression because they are designed exclusively to react to existing conflict, threat and violence. These schools reflect a national blindspot, which prefers hardening targets through enhanced security versus preventing violence with efforts directed at aggressors. Security gets all the focus and money, but this only makes us feel safe, rather than to actually make us safer.

    Some law enforcement agencies use profiling as a means to identify an aggressor. According to the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education’s report on Targeted Violence in Schools, there is a significant difference between “profiling” and identifying and measuring emerging aggression; “The use of profiles is not effective either for identifying students who may pose a risk for targeted violence at school or – once a student has been identified – for assessing the risk that a particular student may pose for school-based targeted violence.” It continues; “An inquiry should focus instead on a student’s behaviors and communications to determine if the student appears to be planning or preparing for an attack.” We can and must assess objective, culturally neutral, identifiable criteria of emerging aggression.

    For a comprehensive look at the problem and its solution,
    Continue the dialogue:

  2. John, Thanks for weighing in. This bill takes a long view of violence prevention. The US Secret Service has determined that a history of bullying was a factor in 75% of fatal school shootings. If schools intervene early to stop bullying, it can prevent escalation more serious violence, such as bringing a gun to school.

    Of course no policy can prevent all school violence, but we believe this can make a real difference.