CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The National PTA and Discovery Education will hold an anti-bullying discussion in Charlotte on Thursday, May 9. The event is the first in a series of nationwide discussions on bullying.

Featured speakers at the panel will include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison and National PTA President Betsy Landers. Also featured is Western North Caroline U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, an openly lesbian Obama appointee who has been outspoken on a variety of bullying and school safety issues. A video message will also be shown from Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

Bullying is a very real issue in the business of growing up. LGBT youth, particularly, face increased harassment at school and in their communities. Anti-LGBT bullying has come under a national and local spotlight over the past several years. The National PTA says their panel discussions across the country will unite students, parents, educators, elected officials and other concerned parties in a resolution to work towards addressing the problems of bullying and mental illness in today’s youth.

In addition to Heath, Landers and Tompkins, this first panel in Charlotte will include local leaders like Mecklenburg PTA Council Second Vice President Ruth Howie, Duke University Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. William Copeland and Deb Kaclik, CMS director of physical education, arts, health and PreK-12 curriculum. Also on the panel is Li Mia Bowen, a counselor and chair of the bullying prevention taskforce at Winget Park Elementary School. These experts will contribute information on access to mental health assistance and potential solutions to bullying. Students and parents from CMS will also speak.

The panel will be held on Thursday, May 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Rd.