Check to see how your NC House Representative Voted
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — The School Violence Prevention Act championed by pro-homosexual groups across the state was voted into law Tuesday in the House, injecting “sexual orientation” and “gender Identity” into N.C. General Statutes for the first time.
“No student should be bullied anywhere at anytime. And if we thought this bullying bill would help, we’d be rejoicing,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Instead it will serve only to open the door to gay marriage a bit wider by providing legal precedence to specially protected categories.”
The law will require school systems across the state to adopt anti-bullying policies that include a list of potential victims — those that may be picked on because of their “race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, socioeconomic status, academic status, gender identity, physical appearance, sexual orientation or mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability ….” though, as several lawmakers pointed out in more than an hour of debate on Tuesday, it does not offer any consequence for bullying or for school administrators’ failure to take action to stop the behavior.
“If we’re not going to call for some consequences on bullying then we need to stop puffing up our chests and pontificating on it,” said Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford) after introducing an amendment that would give school systems the option of using corporal punishment or suspension to punish bullies. Blust said lawmakers were not being fair to school faculty if they blamed them for allowing bullying, but gave them no tools to help stop it.
Rep. Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) also challenged the bill’s proponents to put some teeth into it.
“Yesterday we heard really sad stories of children being bullied, now we hear you arguing that these kids who are the perpetrators shouldn’t be subject to corporal punishment or suspension,” Tillis said. “A lot of the bullies are some of the smartest, most athletic kids. Some of them are in varsity sports. And if they know the stakes are raised and they are going to get suspended, it may be a deterrent.”
Blust’s amendment was rejected as was one sent forth by Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke) that would have required a written reprimand for school employees who knew about bullying but failed to report it or take action to stop it.
Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), who has been honored by Equality NC for his work on the bill, called the Blust amendment “absurd” and said the Legislature had no business requiring a particular punishment for the bully or the condoning teacher and instead recommended “educating, talking and working through” the issue.
Rep. Laura Wiley (R-Guilford) suggested that the bill should also address children targeted by bullies because they are part of a gang or are not part of a gang, but her amendment was ruled out of order because it would have changed the 27-line title of the bill.
In passionate arguments against the bill on both days of discussion, Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) urged lawmakers to put their focus on the bully rather than the victim.
“Bullies bully because they can get away with it,” Dollar said Monday, referencing successful anti-bullying programs that focus primarily on adults taking action to stop the perpetrators. He reminded fellow lawmakers that former state Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee wisely avoided a laundry list of potential victims when the board adopted its policy in 2004.
Rep. Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) expressed some of the same sentiments on Monday.
“Here we are taking over from parents who have failed to teach their child not to bully. But how have you and how have I taught my child not to bully?” Avilla asked. “I didn’t say ‘don’t pick on Rick because he’s Jewish, don’t pick on Julie because she’s autistic, don’t pick on Frank because he is overweight.’ I sent my child out of the house and into the world with one admonition — ‘you do not bully because it is wrong and it hurts people.’ That is the message we need, if we are going to take over for these children, to teach them.”
Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) tried Tuesday to offer an amendment to ensure that the “sexual orientation” reference would not give protection to three specific sexual orientations — pedophilia, sexual sadism and sexual masochism. His amendment was ruled not germane to the matter. On Monday, Stam had questioned the bill’s reliance on subjective assessments of the bully’s motive and the fact that it invites school systems to further expand on the already vague definition of bullying.
Rep. Dollar addressed the lack of definitions for sexual orientation and gender identity.
“If you don’t have a full appreciation of what these terms mean, you shouldn’t be putting them into law,” he said.
Several lawmakers on Monday had mentioned House Bill 776 — No Bullying Anyone At Public Schools — filed in late March with 62 sponsors — as a better alternative to the bill with enumerations, but pointed out how that bill was shuffled aside just as attempts to amend Senate Bill 526 were also stymied.
“Look at the long caption of this bill, the effect of which is that the bill cannot be amended,” said Rep. Johnathan Rhyne (R-Lincoln) who made an unsuccessful motion Monday that the bill be sent back to the Education Committee for more debate. “The purpose to have a caption that long is to stifle debate, a mini-trend that I find disturbing.”
Gov. Beverly Perdue’s office announced Tuesday that she will likely sign the bill.
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