This is what I said in my 2 minute (approximately) testimony today at the hearing regarding House Bill 1163 at the Washington State Senate Committee on Early Learning and K12 Education:
My name is Gabi Clayton, and I live here in Olympia.
Our son Bill was assaulted on the grounds of Olympia High School during Spring Break in 1995. He was bashed by one student from Oly High and three youth from Rochester because he was bisexual. His best friend Sam was assaulted with him because they assumed he must be gay too.
The physical wounds healed, but Bill remained traumatized and depressed. He was 17 years old, and the only place he felt safe was at home.
One of the main places he did not feel safe was at Olympia High School, where the attitude was that the police were handling the assault – so the ONLY thing the school administrators did was to tell the young man who assaulted Bill who went there that he would “be in trouble if he even looked at Bill sideways.”
Bill became suicidal and he agreed to go to the hospital. While he was there he heard that another friend of his who was gay was bashed during school hours in a small town near Olympia.
Bill came home from the hospital on April 28th 1995. I would give anything to tell you that he is now 32 years old and doing fine, but he committed suicide a few days later on May 8th.
I hear SO many stories from across our state about the frightening harassment, intimidation and bullying that still occurs. Some of the people who work in our schools do amazing work to keep the students entrusted to their care safe, but many do not – because they have not been trained on how to intervene – because they don’t know they will be supported if they do – or because they don’t think it is important.
I promise you that our youth understand – like our son did – that they are not safe.
We are all responsible. Please support House Bill 1163. Thank you.
HB 1163 – 2011-12 on the Washington State Legislature website.
Concerning harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention.
Revised for 2nd Substitute: Creating a work group on preventing bullying, intimidation, and harassment and increasing student knowledge on mental health and youth suicide.
Safe Schools Coalition’s Action Alert – WA Anti-bullying House Bill 1163 passed the full House of Representatives.