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“This is personal for me," Montez said. "From coming of age as a gay Latino kid in a rural Colorado town to lobbying my legislator for the passage of civil unions – and everything in between – I understand what LGBT equality means for Coloradans and our families.”
In Colorado, nearly all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students polled this year by national anti-bullying organization GSLEN said they regularly heard homophobic remarks and slurs at their schools. Half of them reported being pushed and shoved around for being queer. And nearly a third of them said they were kicked or punched or hit. That news comes despite the fact that legislators have accepted school bullying as a serious problem to address since the tragic Columbine school shootings of 1999.
The three Republican women in the Colorado state Senate this year have voted as a bloc in support of at least two big family-protection bills that their male Republican colleagues have opposed. Weeks ago, Sens Ellen Roberts, Nancy Spence and Jean White argued passionately from the right in favor of same-sex civil unions as a way to bolster families headed by gay couples. The senators argued again passionately this week in favor of legislation that would combat school bullying, which can sink child confidence with tragic results and tear up families.
As efforts to reduce school bullying reach the White House, Coloradans take leadership roles.
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.