Area Students Fight Bullying and Elect Respect in Houston, Austin
Date: November 20, 2012
500 Houston-area school middle school students and about 400 from the Austin area learned to elect respect and worked on recognizing and responding to bullying at the Southwest Region's No Place for Hate® Youth Summits.
The Houston students cast their votes for respect on election day in Houston at the Beau and Abe Merfish No Place for Hate® Youth Summit. The students and a hundred of their teachers packed the auditorium in the George R. Brown Convention Center to begin the summit by watching a play, "True Confessions of a Bully." The play was presented by the Dionysus Theatre Troupe, which features actors with disabilities alongside actors who are able-bodied. It explored how bullying affects the disabled and their peers, and students said it made them think not only about the problems of the bully's target, but also about those of the bully.
After the play, students moved to breakout rooms where they participated in ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute's Becoming an Ally anti-bullying activities, and brainstormed ways to continue to make their schools No Place for Hate® campuses.
Their teachers also attended breakout sessions on Texas' new anti-bullying law, and on issues involving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) students, immigrant students, and students with disabilities.
One student said of the Houston summit, "Very fun! I learned a lot about how to stop bullying the safe and efficient way."
In Austin, students met at the Texas Capitol on October 31 and November 1. The Austin-area students heard from Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, and Muslim Community Activist Muna Hussaini. The Austin students also participated in anti-bullying activities and worked on ways to continue the No Place for Hate® Initiative in their schools.
Some of them said they learned "that bullying is unacceptable," "How any stranger can change somebody’s life," and "that the worst thing you could do is nothing at all."
Sponsors for the Austin Summit include the National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin.
Sponsors for the Houston Summit include the H-E-B Tournament of Champions, the Fund for the Future of the ADL Southwest Region, and Rochelle, Alan, Julie and Scott Jacobson.