In 1988, I held in my arms the most beautiful child, I could have ever wished for.  I gave her a name that meant peaceful, in harmony, bright and beautiful.  In elementary school her name matched the life she was living. And though she did not like anything pink, frilly or girly, she was happy and so was I.

On February 12, 2008, 15 year old Lawrence “Larry” King was shot in the head by a fellow student while attending class at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California. Larry was gay and gender non-conforming. He died two days later of brain injuries. The local police classified the murder as a hate crime committed because of Larry’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

We tried to convince ourselves these were just quirks. It got to the point he was coming home bullied at school by other kids and he wasn’t making any friends, and we thought, ‘Maybe this is a bigger problem.’ Later, a developmental pediatrician told us, Gabriel was autistic. As a parent you feel for your kid. It can be lonely for them and it can be lonely for you.

We moved from North Carolina to California for my husband’s job.  My two children started at an elementary public school in the Campbell school district. After a couple of months in the new school, my older son, a fourth grader, started complaining about the kids in the school. He said, "I want to  go back to North Carolina—in my old school, there were no bullies.

Our son just completed the third grade today; he has been bullied by the same boy since the second grade. We have documented and reported six bullying incidents to the school principal this year and she has refused to take it seriously. What started out as “name calling” has escalated to physical and psychological violence.

In September 2011, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer tragically committed suicide as a result of persistent bullying about his sexual orientation. Jamey’s suicide attracted national attention, including from one of his personal heroes, Lady Gaga, who sang a tribute to Jamey at one of her concerts after his death.

Thank you for supporting the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus. Every year, millions of Americans are physically or psychologically attacked on the basis of their skin color, ethnicity, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, religion, or age.