Anti-bullying bill shines positive light on state

Published 3:58 am Thursday, June 25, 2009

By Staff
In a move that mirrors a gradual shift in America’s attitudes toward some alternative lifestyles, the state Legislature on Tuesday approved expanding North Carolina’s anti-bullying law.
Though North Carolina is among the last states to pass such an ordinance, lawmakers took the legislation a step further than most states by including a provision that specifically recognizes students’ sexual orientation and gender identity as potential targets for harassment.
The measure, approved by the House 58-57 after contentious debate among legislators and lobbying from both sides on the issue, expands a 2004 State Board of Education policy that does not detail the likely characteristics of students who are bullied.
The Senate had already approved the changes, which require school districts by the end of the year to create policies that list perceived characteristics of people likely to be bullied. The bill would require school employees to report bullying incidents and requires all districts to enact an anti-bullying policy.
That’s as it should be.
No students should live in fear just because they’re different, and bullies — who pick on other students for any reason — should be disciplined to the fullest extent of district policy.
This bill will help ensure that all students are treated fairly, regardless of lifestyle.
And for that, we applaud the N.C. Legislature. Now it’s time for Gov. Beverly Perdue to sign the bill into law.