Friday, July 18, 2008

NC Senate Kills Safe Schools Bill

This morning's Charlotte Observer reports that the North Carolina Senate, in a stunning move, has "effectively killed" a safe schools bill that would have protected students from bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. As Pam's House Blend reported earlier in the week, there was widespread support for the measure in the state.

In fact, "survey results released on Wednesday by Public Policy Polling (PPP) show that 72% of North Carolinians support this explicitly LGBT inclusive anti-bullying bill. Those in favor of the bill were in the majority in all demographic groups. Additionally, 58% of Republicans supported the measure."

So why did the bill, which included common sense protections for LGBT students, essentially fail?

According to the Observer, "Groups interested in socially conservative issues such as the Christian Action League and the N.C. Family Policy Council did not want the term sexual orientation' in state law, saying that gay-rights groups would use it to leverage other rights."

"The bill," the paper notes, "would have required teachers, students and volunteers to report bullying and have local school boards establish anti-bullying policies."

Seven other states, including California, Iowa, Maryland and Wisconsin, have similar laws on the books.

It is unfortunate, and unacceptable, that North Carolina lawmakers, charged with protecting students and creating a learning environment where everyone feels safe, have chosen instead to bow to pressure from extremist groups and, in turn, put children's safety at risk.

If you are a resident of North Carolina, click here to locate your local representative, and contact them to express your disappointment in the legislature's decision. If your representative voted the right way, thank them for their support, and encourage them to continue working on the issue.

You can also reach Senate Pro Tem Marc Basnight at (917) 733-7928. Urge Senator Basnight to revisit this critically important issue, and stand up for students, not extremists.

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