When we first looked at the Dallas Independent School District's proposed anti-bullying policy one month ago, it was a brief two-page document intended, as trustee Edwin Flores said at the time, to be more "comprehensive" than the existing student code of conduct. But for some, the so-called "Freedom of Bullying" policy did not go far enough; the Resource Center, among others, pushed for "specific protections for LGBT students." Trustees Lew Blackburn and Bernadette Nutall, the latter of whom had pushed for a new policy with Flores, included far more definitive language in a later proposal.
Which leads us to this evening: At 5:30, the board of trustees will, almost month later than expected, approve the latest version of the Freedom from Bullying policy -- which is now eight pages' worth of definitions, examples, reporting procedures, investigation guidelines and punishments for those found responsible. Resource Center officials are pleased with the new policy. Its new definition of bullying, considered among the most extensive of any district in the country, is as follows and is far more comprehensive than its earlier iterations:
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Bullying: means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students. Bullying of a student may include hazing, threats, taunting, teasing, confinement, assault, demands for money, extortion, destruction of property, theft of valued possessions, ridicule, name calling, rumor spreading, slurs, jokes, innuendo's [sic], demeaning comments, and ostracism of the person or another.
It is further defined as any unwanted purposeful gesture or written, verbal, graphic, or physical act (including electronically transmitted acts -- i.e. internet, cell phone, personal digital assistant (pda), or wireless hand held device) that is reasonable perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, ethnicity, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, socio-economic background, social/family background, linguistic preference, political beliefs, or a mental, physical, or sensory disability, difference, or impairment; or by any other distinguishing characteristics or because of one's association with a particular person or persons.
Bullying also includes, but not limited to, any threatening, insulting or dehumanizing gesture, bu a student, that has the potential to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment or cause long term damage; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the individual's school performance or participation, is carried out repeatedly and is often characterized by an imbalance of power.