Lifestyle & Belief

Mitt Romney blocked publication of anti-bullying guide due to LGBT references


Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event June 7, 2012 at Production Products, a manufacturing plant in St. Louis, Missouri.


Whitney Curtis

Mitt Romney, while governor of Massachusetts, blocked the publication of a state anti-bullying guide in 2006 because he objected to the use of the words "transgender" and "bisexual" to describe students who may need more protection from harassment, the Boston Globe reported.

At the time, officials in Romney's administration said the guide — intended for use in Massachusetts' public schools — was delayed because of its length and need of revisions, according to the Globe report.

However, an e-mail obtained by the Globe from Alda Rego-Weathers, then deputy commissioner of the state Department of Public Health (DPH), cited use of the words "bisexual" and "transgendered," UPI reported

“Because this is using the terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgendered,’ DPH’s name may not be used in this publication,’’ Rego-Weathers wrote. 

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Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley denounced Romney's decision-making as governor, the Globe's Political Intelligence blog reported

"It is highly discouraging to learn that the Romney administration appears to have blocked publication of a state anti-bullying guide due to references to transgender and bisexual students," Coakley, a Democrat, said in a press release. "For the Romney administration to block a discussion on the impact of bullying on LGBT students was to fail to protect some of our most vulnerable children." 

The blocking of the guide was one of several steps Romney and his aides reportedly took during his last year in office to distance him from the LGBT community in an effort to win over social conservatives ahead of his first presidential campaign in 2008, the Globe reported. 

The GOP presidential candidate also threatened to shut down the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth in 2006 when it issued a press release with his name on it promoting a parade to celebrate LGBT teenagers, according to the Globe, though he ultimately did not. Also in 2006, Romney vetoed a $158,000 budget item that would have supported counseling gay victims of sexual violence, rape and suicide. 

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Coakley is not the only one speaking out against Romney's treatment of the state's attempts to stop bullying. 

"If we've learned anything in the past year from our anti-bullying campaign, it's that the bullying epidemic in our nation rises above debate," wrote actress and anti-bullying activist Marlo Thomas in the Huffington Post. "We are not discussing fiscal policy or trade laws or taxes here — we are talking about a life-or-death issue for America's children, and it needs to be addressed point blank by the Romney campaign." 

Roughly 10,000 copies of the “Guide to Bullying Prevention’’ were eventually published in 2008 by Democrat Deval Patrick, during his first term in office, the Globe reported. The guide offers advice for school administrators and teachers on combating bullying, cyber bullying, and hazing.