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Coakley blasts Romney for blocking 2006 bullying guide

Attorney General Martha Coakley Tuesday denounced the administration of former Governor Mitt Romney for blocking the 2006 publication of an anti-bullying guide for Massachusetts schools.

The Globe reported earlier Tuesday that the governor’s administration stifled the 120-page report because it objected to references to ``bisexual’’ and ``transgender’’ students. The Romney team withheld the guide as the governor was gearing up for his first run for the White House and was beginning to woo social conservatives in the Republican Party.

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``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 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.’’

LGBT is the commonly used acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Socially conservative activists oppose use of these terms in schools because they think it legitimizes behavior they find objectionable.

But Coakley, who has advocated for anti-bullying legislation, says gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students are frequent targets of bullying. It is critical to openly discuss the issue to combating the problem of taunts and violence among young people, she said. She is currently urging Beacon Hill lawmakers to update a 2010 anti-bullying law by establishing a system for reporting bullying incidents and to require schools to recognize that certain students are particularly vulnerable.

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The Globe reported today that the anti-bullying guide for schools was distributed after Romney left office and was running for president.

Romney’s 2012 campaign staff has declined to comment on a Department of Health email that specifically conveyed the administration’s objections to using the terms ``bisexual’’ and transgender’’ in the guide. The Globe obtained the email last week through a public records request.

Christopher Rowland can be reached at crowland@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRowland.
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