Moments before The Weinstein Company screened BULLY at The White House on Friday, President Barack Obama announced his support for two crucial bills that will protect students from bullying.
Both bills tackle bullying in different ways. SNDA would ban harassment in public elementary and secondary schools based on a student’s actual or perceived LGBT status. SSIA would require schools to adopt anti-bullying codes of conduct and submit data to the Department of Education on bullying. The President’s announcement coincides with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) 17th annual Day of Silence, which is a vow of silence to draw attention to the anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. BULLY expands in theaters nationwide today.
The White House released this statement: “The President and his Administration have taken many steps to address the issue of bullying. He is proud to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Senator Franken and Congressman Polis, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Casey and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. These bills will help ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.”
In a statement released on The White House official website, Valerie Jarrett, senior staff to Obama said: “Earlier today, we screened BULLY at the White House. This film is a powerful call to action: We must do everything we can to work toward the day when no young person or family suffers the pain, agony, and loss caused by bulling in our schools and communities. In the last few years, President Obama and his Administration have taken significant steps towards this goal. We also hope that Congress will take action to ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying, and harassment by passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA). These pieces of legislation are critically important to addressing bullying in our schools and safeguarding our most vulnerable students.”
Said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein, “The Obama administration sees a problem and acts swiftly. This is an incredible turn of events and shows that art can have a transcending effect. For all those families of the children who were lost, it’s momentous to have the President and First Lady’s support and gives them something to celebrate.”
Friday’s screening of BULLY at The White House took place in the South Court Auditorium for an audience of 150 people including leaders of organizations such as: GLSEN, National Coalition for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Facing History, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Change.org. In attendance on behalf of the film were director Lee Hirsch and producer Cynthia Lowen as well as many of the families and children who shared their stories in the documentary including Kirk Smalley, David and Tina Long, Kelby and Bob Johnson, and Alex and Jackie Libby. Jarrett spoke to the crowd on behalf of the President following the screening.