12 Jun

Romney Blocked Anti-Bullying Guide


By Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

Just weeks after Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused to endorse same-sex marriage, the Boston Globe reveals the former Massachusetts governor once blocked the publication of an anti-bullying report for teenagers because it contained the words “bisexual” and “transgender.” The article suggests this was only one of several initiatives aimed at distancing Romney from state programs specifically geared towards the gay community. We’re joined from Boston by Donald Gorton, a prominent LGBTQ rights activist who co-authored the anti-bullying report and served as former co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes; and from Washington, D.C. by Christopher Rowland, a Boston Globe reporter who co-wrote the paper’s expose.

Romney Nixed Anti-Bullying Report Because it Mentioned Bi, Trans Students

Posted June 12th, 2012 by John M. Becker

It’s no secret that Mitt Romney has trouble coming across as human, much less as someone who can relate to the everyday experiences of average Americans in any kind of meaningful way. His campaign’s effort to counter his perceived wooden aloofness was dealt a severe blow last month when the Washington Post and other major media outlets reported on credible allegations that he severely bullied gay and gender-nonconforming peers in high school.

This already unflattering picture just got even worse: the Boston Globe revealed today that when he was Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney’s administration blocked the publication of a 120-page anti-bullying guide intended for distribution to teachers and administrators in the state’s public schools because of just two words: “bisexual” and “transgendered.”

According to Globe reporters Murray Waas and Christopher Rowland, administration officials at the time publicly claimed that the guide — which contained advice for combating bullying, cyberbullying, and hazing, provided contact information for bullied youth seeking help, and noted that LGBT youth are bullied at an alarmingly high rate — was nixed because its hefty size required further review. But an internal email written by an administration official and obtained by the paper under a public records request reveals the truth:

“Because this is using the terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgendered,’ DPH’s name may not be used in this publication,’’ wrote the official, Alda Rego-Weathers, then the deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Because the Department of Public Health was the primary sponsor and funding source of the guide, the move effectively blocked its publication. Rego-Weathers said in the e-mail that she had been consulting with Romney’s office on the issue.

Yup, that’s right: those two words — “bisexual” and “transgendered” — were apparently so egregiously offensive to the Mitt Romney administration that it felt justified in withholding potentially life-saving anti-bullying guidelines from administrators, faculty, and student victims on the front lines in the public schools. The Globe notes that this move came as Romney sought to distance himself from previous pro-LGBT statements in an effort to court social conservatives. (SPLC-certified anti-gay hate groups like Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council vociferously condemn anti-bullying programs because they claim such efforts “promote” homosexuality.) Critics of the former governor, including LGBT rights activist Don Gorton — author of the report and a dedicated friend to Truth Wins Out — say that in wooing these groups, Romney was already angling for a 2008 bid for the presidency: “[He] put his own political interests ahead of the safety of vulnerable youth.”

Gorton began the report while serving as co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, a body that Mitt Romney dissolved in 2003. He told the Globe that Romney’s administration misleadingly claimed the extended review process would take a few weeks, then stretched the process out over seven months. Ultimately, Gorton’s bullying prevention guide was not published until 2008, after Mitt Romney had left office and was running for president. A pro-LGBT governor, Deval Patrick, had taken his place.

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