Caleb Laieski, a 16-year-old activist from Surprise and founder of Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination, was invited to Washington, D.C., last week for the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention.
We spoke with Laieski about his trip, anti-bullying policy and his goals.
Phoenix-area teen takes aim at gay bullying
What was your schedule like and who else went?
“Our schedule was packed. If we weren’t at the White House, we were . . . at Congress. It was awesome, though. . . . Most people there were from social networks, like business leaders, and university research people. Also, a few bullied students and a few parents who lost their children due to suicide.”
What was a highlight from the conference?
After President Obama’s speech, “we broke up into groups to talk about different topics. I was assigned to cyberbullying. . . . I feel the number one priority is we need to provide law enforcement with the resources where they can tackle (online threats) promptly and make sure those students are safe.”
What is the Student Non-Discrimination Act?
“It’s fairly similar to last year’s (version of the bill). It adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of things that cannot be discriminated upon. If schools refuse to enforce it, then they can lose federal funding.”
What is the next step for you?
“I think we’re going to be able to pass this federal bill as long as myself and other students come forward to share their stories. Because then (lawmakers) can actually relate to the bill instead of it coming from a lobbyist. . . . My goal is to go back once we get the funds and talk to every member of Congress that allows it.”