Late last week, the film Bully was screened at the White House. As described by Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, the audience included people associated with the documentary and policy makers.
'We were joined by bullying prevention advocates from a range of communities – LGBT, AAPI, faith, disability, and others – as well as educational partners and key Obama Administration staff who work on these issues every day, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Before the film, a panel of nationally recognized experts on bullying prevention spoke from their perspectives about challenges and opportunities, and after the film, we heard from Lee Hirsch, the director and filmmaker, and several of the students and families who were directly impacted by bullying and intolerance and whose stories were featured in the film.'
In conjunction with the screening and meeting, the White House announced support of the Student Non-Discrimination (SNDA) and Safe Schools Improvement (SSIA) Acts. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota and Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado are sponsors of SNDA; if passed the bill would prohibit discrimination in public schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The SSIA bill requires school districts to implement codes of conduct against bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Rep. Linda Sanchez of California.
The movie screening and announcement of support for pro-gay bills come during a week when Obama took heat from LGBT advocacy groups for not signing an executive order banning LGBT workplace discrimination.