Governor signs bill to educate students on eating disorders

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In the age of social media, kids have access to endless images online. One Louisiana lawmaker worries about children comparing themselves to unrealistic beauty standards, potentially making them vulnerable to developing eating disorders.

“I thought it was definitely worth trying to introduce it or even begin to talk about it in public schools,” said Representative Tammy Phelps (D).

A bill by Shreveport Rep. Tammy Phelps was just recently signed by Gov. Edwards that would require public schools to teach about the dangers of eating disorders and how to catch the early signs of one developing. According to Phelps, it’s a state-wide initiative that each school system would be responsible for incorporating in your child’s curriculum.

The lessons would begin in 6th grade and continue through high school. Schools already have health and science courses, so this would not cost the state any money. Rep. Phelps says the eye-opening testimony from advocate Brandi Mellisa is what inspired her to draft the bill.

RELATED: Gov. Edwards signs bills into law from 2022 Legislative Session

“With the way kids get bullied and stuff these days, body image is a serious issue. So, I just decided to try and do something to help that situation and let them know they’re not alone,” said Melisa.

As a kid, Melissa says she struggled with anorexia and bulimia.

“One time I was sent home from a local ER...and I called my mom while I was sitting outside waiting for a cab telling her that they were sending me home to die,” Melissa continued.

Research shows anorexia is the most fatal mental health diagnosis in the country. And Brandi wants to make sure it doesn’t claim the life of another innocent child.

“Even if it only saves one life, that’s worth it in my opinion but I’m sure it’s going to impact a lot more. Because I don’t want another child to be a suicide statistic,” said Melissa.

The EBR school system says they are in the early stages of implementing a solid plan for this in our schools. These lessons will begin this coming school year.

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