27th April 2012, Eisenhower Executive Office Building- Washington, DC:
Participating in the screening of the film “Bully” at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House s. There were attendees from organizations and departments all over the nation including the Sikh Coalition, Department of Transportation representatives, Public School Superintendants, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and President Obama’s Senior Advisor, Valeria Jarrett.
The event began with a panel of individuals speaking on their organization’s experience and work with bullying. These individuals were representing GLSEN, Sikh Coalition, Facing History, NAPT, AAPD, and Sioux City. The screening of the movie began shortly thereafter. This hour and a half film shed light on four families experience with bullying across the nation. During the silent moments of the film, you could hear the audience sniffle, gasp and take deep sighs of grief. It was a message that hit everyone in the room: bullying affects everyone and if it isn’t stopped more children will suffer and escape with suicide.
After the screening, the individuals who were in the film took the stage. Tyler Long’s parents, David and Tina, spoke on their son’s suicide due to bullying. Kirk Smalley spoke on his son’s suicide as well. Kelby Johnson and her father spoke on Alex’s struggle as a lesbian in school and the bullying she’s been through. Finally, Alex Libby and his mother, Jackie Libby, were there speaking on his struggles with bullying, especially on the school bus. (Click here: Parents and victims sharing their thoughts on bullying)
During the Q and A session that followed, a representative from the Department of Transportation in the audience stood up and told us that about 26 million kids take the school bus. This is more than the amount of travelers on airplanes. While the school bus is extremely safe (only six deaths a year), it is just as dangerous for bullying.
Afterwards, Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s Senior Advisor, spoke on the two bills he signed in support of Friday morning itself: the Safe Schools Improvement Act and Student Non-Discrimination Act. Listen to her speak here, here, and here. Following her remarks, Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, spoke on the importance of the issue. The main take away from this screening and presentation was that now is the time to come together and take a stand against bullying. This film must be shown to students, parents, and school faculty across the nation. It needs to be discussed in classrooms and households so that kids are aware of the consequences of their actions. The Q and A session was followed by a reception at the Indian Treaty Room.
UNITED SIKHS bullying program is in progress and
Intern Anisha Singh