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Teenagers who live in politically conservative parts of the country are more depressed and suicidal than teens who live in politically progressive parts of the country, according to a study by Columbia University psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler published this week. The study comes as the nation, spurred by media coverage of recent tragic youth deaths, reckons with the fact that school harassment drives gay young people in particular to depression and suicide. It also comes in the wake of competing days dedicated to drawing attention to school bullying, the Day of Silence organized by gay rights groups and the Day of Dialogue organized by Colorado Springs-based Christian group Focus on the Family.
After hours of emotional testimony at the capitol Wednesday, the Colorado House Education Committee Wednesday voted 9 to 4 in favor of school-bullying prevention House Bill 1254 (pdf). The bill would revise anti-bullying guidelines and establish a board within the state Department of Education to revise rules of conduct and reporting and to raise money to pay for anti-bullying research and programs.
A group of Colorado rights and education organizations is calling on Governor-elect John Hickenlooper and state lawmakers to establish a task force on school bullying and harassment in Colorado. The organizations cite the alarming rash of recent high-profile incidents around the country where harassment led gay high school and university students to commit suicide.