White House anti-bullying conference set for Tuesday in Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas – From physical or verbal threats on the playground to attacks via the Internet, bullying has caused an enormous toll on the lives of many children across America.

Bullying, especially against LGBT students, has gotten considerable coverage in recent years as picked-on children have killed themselves to escape their tormenters. The focus has been on a rising suicide rate among LGBT teens, one of the most vulnerable groups.

To address this national problem, the White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools & Communities will be conducted from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Tuesday, March 20, at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Two top officials of the Obama Administration will speak Tuesday: Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States and head of the Justice Department; and Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President.

This is the third LGBT conference presented this year by the White House and follows the LGBT Conference on Health held Feb. 16 in Philadelphia and the LGBT Conference on Housing and Homelessness held March 9 in Detroit. More conferences are planned through June.

“UT Arlington is pleased to be a partner in presenting this important conference focused on what educators, law enforcement officials and others can do to curb bullying, harassment, and violence in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities,” said James D. Spaniolo, UT Arlington president.

“These issues relate to critical research and academic studies under way within our University, and we look forward to the awareness this event will help foster.”

At the conference at UTA, the university’s criminal justice department will participate with the White House and the Justice Department to share with participants on ways to prevent bullying. The Obama Administration, through the Education and the Justice departments, recently negotiated a settlement with a Minnesota school district to resolve a federal lawsuit regarding bullying. The historic agreement sets a national precedent that public schools must protect all students, especially its most vulnerable populations.

Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns, who made national headlines for his impassioned speech at a council meeting about how he was impacted as a student by bullying, will also speak at the conference.

Other speakers will include Judy Shepard, mother of slain college student Matthew Shepard, and Robert Pittman, an openly gay Obama appointee as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas.

The conference will be shown live on the Internet.

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