December 02, 2011

RFK Center, NYSUT and UFT debut anti-bullying curriculum

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers launch Bullying Lesson to Speak Truth To Power Curriculum

Kerry Kennedy, Richard Iannuzzi and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy will join anti-bullying activist, Jamie Nabozny and other human rights defenders from around the world to introduce new lesson

New York City, N.Y. December 2, 2011 - Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights; and Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) will visit a Manhattan school on Monday to introduce a new lesson on bullying that will be added to Speak Truth to Power (STTP) - a human rights curriculum for New York state.

Building on the Speak Truth To Power 2010 human rights education curriculum developed in partnership with NYSUT, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights will launch its anti-bullying lesson titled, "Bullying: Language, Literature and Life."

Kennedy and her mother, Ethel, will be joined by Jamie Nabozny, an anti-bullying activist who is a new "defender" in the curriculum and others in reaching out to students at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, at Beacon High School in midtown Manhattan (West 61st Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenue).

The (STTP) human rights curriculum, taught to hundreds of thousands of students around the world, is designed to be flexible, and can be taught as a 12-week course, during a full school year, or as one stand-alone lesson. The primary aim of the curriculum is to get students to self-identify as human rights defenders by taking on active roles in the work of creating a more just and peaceful world. Each student is given a tool kit for action to create change in the classroom, the community, the country and globally on domestic violence, trafficking, free expression, and - now - bullying.

"In the face of injustice and inequality, we cannot afford to be bystanders," said Kerry Kennedy. "This lesson helps to empower those who are either bullied or witness bullying, to stand up and speak out."

Nabozny is the newest "defender" to be included in the STTP human rights curriculum. Nabozny, with the help of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, won a landmark federal lawsuit against school administrators in his home state of Wisconsin who failed to stop anti-gay bullying in his school. He now speaks in schools across the country about the destructive nature of school bullying. His story is the subject of a new documentary, Bullied, produced by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Students learn best when they feel safe, and students cannot feel safe if bullies are creating a climate of fear and disrespect in their schools," said NYSUT President Iannuzzi.

In August 2010, Kerry Kennedy, daughter of RFK, joined 10 teachers from NYSUT and representatives from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers at NYSUT's headquarters in Albany to develop 18 lessons based on human rights defenders featured in her book "Speak Truth To Power."

The STTP curriculum has been disseminated to hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia. Recently, at a press conference with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, it was launched in Chicago. In addition, the international interest in the curriculum continues to grow and to offer new partnership opportunities with donors and governments. A model country for this educational initiative is Italy, where the 12-week course will be taught to 500,000 students in the 2011-12 academic year. The human rights education curriculum is also being taught in South Africa, Romania and Nicaragua.

In October, the RFK Center and NYSUT, with support from the Tribeca Film Institute, launched a new student video contest based on the Speak Truth To Power human rights curriculum. Details about the contest can be found at All winning videos will be featured on the Speak Truth to Power website, The grand prize video will be shown at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. The deadline for entries is Jan. 31, 2012.

In addition to Nabozny, the other defenders appearing Monday will be:

  • Stephen Bradberry - 2005 winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award - is the founder of the Alliance Institute. Bradberry is a long-time organizer from New Orleans, Louisiana. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the oil drilling disaster, Bradberry has been at the forefront of helping New Orleans families return to their homes and have a voice in the recovery process.
  • Abel Barrera Hernández - 2010 winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award - is the founder and director of the Center for Human Rights of the Montaña ("Tlachinollan") in the Mountain and Coastal regions of the state of Guerrero in southern Mexico. The team at Tlachinollan put their lives on the line to accompany indigenous communities in their struggles to access justice and build better lives for their families.

About the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights ( was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy's family and friends as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world. Today, the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights exemplifies Robert Kennedy's belief that all individuals have the power and responsibility to make a difference, and that individuals working collectively can transform the world. The RFK Center's core programs focus on the power of the individual, working through alliances and organizations, to generate change. RFK PARTNERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS bolsters the efficacy of human rights defenders through sustained, strategic partnerships, extending their reach to legislators, diplomats, international institutions and corporations. RFK SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER educates students and the public about human rights issues and provides the tools for creating change in their communities. RFK COMPASS convenes the financial community to advance a discussion of the connections among investment performance, fiduciary duty, and public interest issues to optimize risk-adjusted rates of returns and address current and future global challenges.

About the New York State United Teachers

NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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