DES MOINES — Iowa lawmakers took up a pair of competing anti-bullying bills for the first time Thursday, months earlier in the session than they did last year.

One, heard in a House subcommittee Thursday, is the governor’s bill. The other, heard in a Senate subcommittee, is the Senate's attempt to address the problem of bullying in and out of schools. The bills are House Study Bill 525 and Senate Study Bill 3149.

Both bills give school administrators the authority to enforce anti-bullying policy off school grounds, both provide money for a training component to help school staff recognize bullying, and both have a requirement that parents be notified of bullying involving their children.

The differences boil down to definitions, money allocated for training and some other points that lawmakers in both subcommittees said they can work through.

Both are important to Jake Stallman, a senior at Tipton High School who says he was bullied in middle school for being fat, then later when he came out as homosexual to a friend by choice privately and, not by choice, publicly through Facebook.

He shared his story with lawmakers in the House subcommittee Thursday.

“The boys would treat me different,” said Stallman, who is now a wiry 6-feet, 4-inches tall and a member of the high school’s cheerleading team. “They would say a lot of ‘fag’ jokes.”

He said it got particularly bad in high school when other students threatened to “rearrange my face” and, by sophomore year, he received a death threat at his home.

“That was a terrible year,” he said. “That was a year my mom received a phone call, and it said, ‘Your son is a fag, and we’re coming to kill him.’”

Stallman’s mother, Tania McAtee, said she was proud of her son, who now blogs about his experiences on Matthew’s Place, a website named for Matthew Shepard, a homosexual who was tortured and killed in Wyoming in 1998.

McAtee started the group Tipton Against Kids Being Bullied after not getting satisfaction from school officials.

“He was coming home and going through a lot in school,” McAtee said. “I had meetings but follow-up calls were none. The proper progress, there was hardly any communication whatsoever.”

She thinks school officials dismissed it as “kids will be kids.”

She said it’s important the legislation keeps provisions allowing school officials to enforce anti-bullying policies for incidents that occur off-campus through social media and the like.

“Take a look at Jake. He was called out on Twitter. He was called out on Facebook. Even though you’re at home, you still have to go back to school. You still have to face those kids,” she said. “If you don’t have a nurturing environment, you’re not going to be able to learn. You have to be held accountable.”

(18) comments

Kickin

When did I attack him for being gay? I could care less if he likes wieners.
Everyone who wants to be different in the way they dress or act or look always thinks people pick on them. Well when you stand out like a green hat with an orange bill people will notice. It doesn't mean they are attacking. That's when "individuality" get all butt hurt.

That's not true. People think they get picked on, when they get picked on (bullied).

I don't care if he has a crooked pink tie or a green hat with an orange bill. Yes, people notice. No one's talking about those that are not attacking.

There is a difference between getting a beat down and someone ignoring that green hat with the orange bill, and you very well know it.

Your "Get all butt hurt" is not only disgusting, but offensive and derogatory as well. Yep, bullying.

Not sure why, feelings of inadequacy? Jealous? Bromance? Crush on him?

Kickin

I do own the same one. From my brothers wedding. When did people become so sensitive?

Did you tie it yourself? If so, good for you. Why do people have to attack a teen for wearing a bow tie is the more important question.

It's not being sensitive when you bully someone into attempting suicide, or following through. Why are you so insensitive?

Why do you fall back on the "he's too sensitive argument", when you hate his lifestyle, and attack him for the clothes he wears? If he were black, would you say he's too sensitive, when you put him in his own section of the restaurant, or put him on the back of the bus?

It's not being "so sensitive" when you demean people. It's bigoted.

Kickin

I do own the same one. From my brothers wedding. When did people become so sensitive?

Constitutionalist

I hope this kid gets the over abundance of attention that he strives for.

Why must you bully this boy? Why do you claim he wants an over abundance of attention?

He doesn't want bullied, and he doesn't want to act like someone he's not.

So sorry you hate gay people, but welcome to the 21st century. This boy can now get married. He can work. He as job protection now. He has 1138 rights that were formerly granted to just heterosexuals.

Stop the hate and learn your constitution. You are promoting that his constitutional rights be violated.

Kickin

@yesterdaymorning....I'm not writing a college paper here so I don't really need punctuation......!!!!!????? It's called humor get a sense of it and your boring life will be better!!!!!!!......?????,,,

mondaymorning

Wow! It's a wonder that kids bully today considering the amount of adults who bully.

Kickin - Before you say something rude about someone else, try using ending punctuation on your sentences.

Budnight - It is funny how many laws we seem to need. Unfortunately, kids behavior often mimics the behavior/expectations at home. There is a undercurrent of people with the mindset that bullying is less harmful than it truly is.

PainfullTruth

Wow. Maybe instead of putting more useless laws on the books they need to educate people like monday so that they aren't so sensitive. Some people need to learn to take a joke or better yet, get some thicker skin and stop running to the nearest lawmaker to cure their sensitivity problems. This whole "bullying" push the last couple of years is misguided. Just like the "hate crime" laws. Last time I checked when I saw two people fighting when i attended school it was because they didn't like someone, not because they were black, gay, etc. Now every crime needs to have a label, and a cause. It isn't because they did something wrong, it is because there is something wrong with them?

It seams that people are going further out of their way to be "different", yet when they go to this place then they don't like to be called "different" and that is called bullying? Enforce the laws we have and stop making new laws for the sake of including every social issue that shows up in the Dear Sally section of the paper.

Except for the fact that when you violate the constitution, it becomes illegal.

Just because you retain the opinion that it's ok for blacks to sit on the back of the bus, use different drinking fountains, go to different schools, or that it's ok to attack this boy for being gay, or making fun of his tie, get it through that skull of yours that gay kids are more likely to commit suicide. Are you advocating that?

Bullying is not misguided, nor are hate crime laws. Your very definition shows just how ignorant you are of what a hate crime is. Two people fighting is not a hate crime. You, old white man, fighting a black man because he's moving in the neighborhood and you claim he's lowering property values? That's a hate crime. Killing someone or beating them or bullying them because they are gay, a minority, jewish, Muslim, etc? Hate crime.

I guess in the ensuing 50 years since you've been in school, we've caught up with you. Not really sure how sheltered you must have been, because I went to school in the 60's and 70's, and saw kids beat down because they were black, hispanic, gay, as well as some cases "just because". Nope, most crime doesn't need a label, Painful, and most don't. It's why you seldom see hate crime prosecutions. It's why you see criminal assault cases prosecuted for the most part.

Call the county/state attorney's office where you live and have them explain the difference. It's been repeatedly explained to you, and you act each time as if there is no difference. Maybe they can explain better.

No one is going further out of their way. Are you claiming gay kids don't have the right to be gay, and wear a rainbow flag lapel pin? that a hispanic child can't wear a mexican flag lapel pin? that a black woman from Ghana can't go to the store in native attire? That Vietnamese and Laotian women can't go to temple in native dress? Yet, it's acceptable for you to wear a "kiss me I'm Irish" lapel pin?

Yep, we all have the same rights guaranteed to us under the constitution. When you attack the others because they are wearing native dress, gay flags, etc, it can be construed as a hate crime, because it is. Yes, that is bullying.

perhaps you need to go to the back of the bus and sit. If we have enough case law, so be it. Of course, if you'd read this article, this law expands the right of a school administrator that he already had (existing law). It amends a law, not really creating new law.

Seems like you want status quo, which is too bad. As an older white man, sir, you better wake up. Hispanic children outnumber white children now in grade schools. Over the next 10 years, more hispanics than whites will be graduating and entering the work force. You know longer outnumber, you can stop your bullying now, rather than later.

Another suggestion.....stop pushing for a national language. You'll really hate it if the majority in a few years, hispanics, push spanish through instead of english. You'll be up a creek without a paddle.

Did you enjoy the coke commercial during the superbowl? Pretty amazing, wasn't it!

Kickin

No wonder people bully this kid...he can't even put a clip on bow tie on straight

How do you know it's a clip on? Do you own the same one?

budnight

Are you bullying me? There should be a law prohibiting that. I'm crushed.

Nope, just pointing out how you two came across as bullying. You? Much more sarcastic. I do agree, no more laws - bullying is on the books. But that would require the police or sheriff to enforce the laws - are they willing to do it?

Nice bullying, you two!

budnight

We need more laws. That way we can be bullied into believing everything lawmakers want us to believe.

atlasshrugged

Nice tie!

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