Locals come to support anti-bullying law

TRENTON, N.J. - October 25, 2010

"People would always call me names like 'Faggot, queer, gay,'" Otto told Action News.

At one point it got to be too much.

"He said, 'Mom, I just don't want to live anymore.'" His mother Kim Otto told Action News. "As a parent those are words you never ever want to hear."

John Otto's parents were among a series of speakers in Trenton where lawmakers are proposing an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights that will toughen and standardize how schools respond to intimidation and harassment. Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle/D-PRIME SPONSOR ) According to Steve Goldstein of Garden State Equality, "It's not just a "Gay Bill." This bill protects every student who is bullied for any reason."

Thirty-seven-year-old Stella Serpa still painfully recalls as a child being bullied for being poor--and wearing glasses.

"They would hide in the bushes and jump out and yell 'Welfare!' and 'Foodstamps!'" Serpa said. "I was taunted on the bus. I was called 'Nerd. Geek. Ugly.'"

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights has been in the works for almost a year, but seems especially timely following the suicides of several teens around the country. Perhaps most notably, Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after his encounter with a man was shown on the internet.

As for John Otto, he says when he got back to school the kids seem to realize the impact their taunting had.

"They changed their behavior, I think they became a bit more understanding," Otto said.

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