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Teens, Parents Urge Idaho Lawmakers To Pass Anti-Bullying Bill

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
Carmen Stanger testified before Idaho lawmakers about her daughter Maddie, who died by suicide last year. Stanger says Maddie was bullied for her sexual orientation.

A bill that would establish an expectation for Idaho schools to intervene when a kid is bullied is headed to the Idaho House floor.

The head of student engagement at the Department of Education said every month, three to five parents call him because their kids are being bullied and they want the schools to stop it.

High schooler Sarah Morrison told lawmakers she’s experienced that as a student.

“In my own personal experience when I reported to my teacher what was happening on a daily basis, there was no action taken at all,” she said.? Morrison said as a result of severe bullying at her school in Meridian, she now attends high school online.

Sponsors of the bill said teachers don’t always know how to stop it. Their proposal would require ongoing training for teachers and staff. It would also set up a series of consequences -- including counseling -- for kids who do the bullying.

High school junior Rylee Driscoll told lawmakers she had a friend who died by suicide after being bullied. Driscoll said the bill wouldn’t solve the problem, but it would make kids feel like someone has their back.

“And I know for a fact kids will open up more and more lives will be saved,” she said.

Many parents also turned out to ask lawmakers to approve the bill.

Carmen Stanger’s daughter Maddie died by suicide last year in Pocatello. Stanger says Maddie was bullied for being gay.

“However, I want to point out to you that this bill is not something that we view as an LGBT issue,” Stanger said. She said kids are targeted for many reasons.

The Idaho House Education Committee passed the bill without dissent, though Republican Rep. Lance Clow worried that requiring schools to respond could open districts up to lawsuits.

The measure has the support of the state’s teachers union and the Idaho School Boards Association.