GLSEN Calls on Romney to Clarify Position on Bullying...

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Andy Marra Public Relations Manager 

May 10, 2012

'Apology' for High School Assault on Gay Classmate Completely Inadequate

NEW YORK (May 10, 2012) –The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) calls on Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to clarify his position on efforts to prevent bullying, harassment and assault in schools after revelations regarding his own behavior as a student led to a dismissive "apology" for his participation in an assault on a gay student.

The Washington Post today reported that while a senior at Cranbrook Schools in Michigan Romney led a group of classmates who tackled and pinned a gay classmate and forcibly cut his hair while the student screamed for help and tears filled his eyes. Romney, who while Governor of Massachusetts cut funding for and threatened to eliminate a commission established to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, responded on Fox News by saying he didn't remember the incident and, "I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school and some of them might have gone too far, and I apologize."

"This is deeply troubling behavior on the part of an individual in Governor Mitt Romney's position. Romney's so-called apology for his past actions sheds new light on his disturbing track record on bullying and suicide prevention while Governor of Massachusetts," GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard said. "Far from being 'hijinks' or a 'prank,' Romney's behavior toward his high school classmate amounted to harassment and assault. And GLSEN remembers all too well Romney's troubling record while he was Governor of Massachusetts on programs designed to protect LGBT youth and prevent youth suicide. Nearly one in five lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students will be assaulted at school this year. What would Mr. Romney propose to do as President to address this horrifying reality?

"It is critical that Mr. Romney make clear how he would approach these issues as President." Would he again seek to end important measures initiated by a previous administration, as he did in Massachusetts?"

While Governor of Massachusetts, Romney threatened to eliminate the state's LGBT Youth Commission, which was established through an executive order by Republican Governor William Weld. The Legislature had to scramble to pass a law to keep it alive.

GLSEN's 2009 National School Climate Survey found that 84.6% of LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year, 18.8% were assaulted and 61.1% felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.