The first openly gay person ever elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature says it's time for the state to improve its efforts to combat bullying.

 

State Rep. Brian Sims, who is backing the Pennsylvania Safe Schools Act, says he knows firsthand the pain of being bullied.

"I was bullied. I was always the new kid in school," said Sims, whose parents are both retired lieutenant colonels in the Army. "I was generally a lot bigger than most kids and so, yeah absolutely, I was picked on for being the new kid."

Sims is pushing anti-bullying legislation he says could improve conditions for all kids, not just those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

The bill not only specifically enumerates the classes that are to be protected, says Sims, "but it really goes in to the type of bullying that we're talking about, whether it's cyberbullying or in school, whether you're being bullied because of your race, because of your gender, because you're LGBT.

"And it helps to curb that by giving teachers the resources they need to both identify it and to address it," he said.

Sims says young LGBT kids, as well as those who are perceived that way, bear the brunt of bullying in schools.