Pam Spaulding

North Carolina anti-bullying bill killed

Filed By Pam Spaulding | July 18, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-bullying, Kay Hagan, North Carolina

Unbelievable. Let's just look at this from the 30,000-foot view. How on earth is it controversial to protect children from harassment and violence? (N&O):

Sen. Doug Berger, a Franklin County Democrat, said the bullying bill will not be approved this session.

The bill was controversial because it listed "sexual orientation" and other characteristics as reasons schoolchildren might be the targets of bullying. Groups such as the Christian Action League and the N.C. Family Policy Council did not want the term in state law, saying that gay-rights groups would use it to leverage other rights.

Somehow, the bigots at the Christian Action League and the N.C. Family Policy Council scared enough of our Senate Democrats (including State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Kay Hagan, who supported the bill, but decided not to show up and do her job to help NC students have a safe environment in which to learn). Of course we all know the cultural GOP fossils do the bidding of the far-right fringe organizations here in NC, but if all of these Dems had shown up, the bill would have passed.

PFLAG:

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."

Again, we have to rid our state of representation by Elizabeth Dole. It's clearly a matter of whether one believes that you can be elected in NC and publicly support any LGBT-perceived issues on the record with a vote. After all, this was a bill that would cover children who may not be gay at all, but simply not conform to gender presentation norms.

It's a strategic question facing our movement and our elected officials and advocates in NC; it's difficult to see how the hard work people put into moving our rights forward must remain relegated to support in whispered conversations. When will it be "politically safe" to be on-the-record when we cannot even pass a watered-down bill to protect children? That's a statement of exasperation.

This reminds me so much about national level pols who ran from any comment or position-taking on LGBT issues in the last presidential election. It was perceived to be a mine field, because of the fear of the wrath of the professional "Christian" organizations. In 2008, look at the difference, in all of the Dem candidates versus the GOP. Apparently spine-enhancement is a trickle-down sort of thing.

Of course this only further emboldens organizations like the Christian Action League and the N.C. Family Policy Council, even as public support clearly shows elected officials that this bill didn't deserve to be killed.

If you read the entire N&O piece, one of the means to attempt to get a vote on this bill was "pairing," which would facilitate a vote by taking pro votes and setting them opposite nay votes. Senators in opposition were told not to accept pair requests from senators who would have voted for the bill if present, aka Hagan. That in the end killed this. Had the MIAs been present and voted, it would have passed.

Perhaps this information might help those fence sitters and MIAs to think about what they could have done to stop the violence:

GLSEN:

Only nine states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive anti-bullying laws that specifically address bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and only three of these laws mention gender identity. Nine other states have "generic" anti-bullying laws that do not specifically define "bullying" or enumerate categories of protected classes such as sexual orientation or gender identity. The remaining 32 states have no laws at all. The NSCS found that both states with "generic" anti-bullying laws and states with no law at all had equally high rates of verbal harassment. States with inclusive policies that specifically enumerate categories including sexual orientation and gender identity, however, have significantly lower rates of verbal harassment (31.6% vs. 40.8%).

* Bullying and Gay Youth: Students hear anti-gay slurs such as "homo", "faggot" and "sissy" about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes.

Anti-Gay Bullying: What's the Big Deal?

Overall, 61% of students said they knew someone who had been called gay or lesbian. That's the biggest increase of any form of harassment students knew about, up from 51% in 1993. Most other experiences of sexual harassment have remained steady or decreased.

* When asked about their own experiences, 36% say they have "ever" been called lesbian or gay. That's the biggest jump among all the types of harassment students experienced, up from 17% in 1993.

* 19% of boys said they had been called gay "occasionally" or "often," double the rate in 1993 (9%).

* 13% of girls said they had been called lesbian "occasionally" or "often," almost triple the rate in 1993 (5%).


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 19, 2008 5:47 AM

Pam, in order to get the protection for the kids is not an all encompassing non specific law better? They are still minor children in any case and there is no excuse to ever bully. Criminalize all bullying for any cause and follow up with individual districts to police the progress. As more is needed more can be done, but I would suggest that it needs to involve area parents so that "carpetbaggers" will not be telling the locals what to do.

Without criminalizing all bullying the kids will pick on the kid with the birthmark, MS, a limp, a harelip, a stutter, not the right shoes, etc. They are going to pick on something because they are kids.

Criminalizing bullying sounds too scarily Orwellian to me.

I myself prefer to see statutes such as this cover all things rather than state specifics. In setting up the guidelines for our new religious organization we stated that membership, clergy etc would be available in a non-prejudicial manner.
Right now I am involved with the rewrite of the bylaws for a large traditional martial arts organization I want to push for a change in how the wording is done so that it doesn't have a limited list of things and so is inclusive of everything. I need to be able to prepare things because i can see a possible showdown over promotion issues developing and I just want to head those off. So when it come at the board level I can argue that the transgendered folks are protected in the bylaws already. So to do that I gotta get the bylaws changed. The funny thing is that the board members who may balk at credentialing a transgendered instructor will approve the change and not see it coming at this time.

I know one of the critisisms of the Florida bullying bill was that it was generic. That leaves anti-gay bullying up to school officials to support. In rural schools with anti-gay administration, do you think they'd enforce it? Especially when it's not spelled out that they have to?

Pam, please forgive my apparent illiteracy. Did an LGBT amendment get recommitted, or did they recommit the whole anti-bullying bill because it would include LGBT kids? The latter sounds like a story to me: they don't want to protect your kids because the bill might have protected every kid?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 20, 2008 4:18 AM

Non specific, all encompassing should even cover Nikes. By getting bogged down with specifics are we not protecting only bullies?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 20, 2008 7:45 AM

Pam is a Democrat, but one of those able to look at the real world and assign fault to the Democrats. She says “… if all of these Dems had shown up, the bill would have passed.”

The NC events were a replay of the policies of the national Democrats, especially the Obama campaign, that's taking extraordinary steps to distance themselves from the ‘fringes’ of society. As usual we're'the fringes' and, again as usual, we’re being herded off to Siberia for the duration of the campaign, and if their history is any guide, we’ll be there for quite a while after it's over.

Following their butchery of our legislative agenda – ENDA and Hate Crimes murdered, DOMA and DADT retained after two years of Democrat control of Congress – Obama is moving into the bigot’s camp in a big way with his initiative to expand the taxpayer financed bribes cult leaders get in exchange for votes – the so-called ‘faith-based’ charities law.

Reliance on Democrats is a failed and consistently self-defeating tactic. We need a massive campaign including demonstrations and alliance building to demand tough, all inclusive laws against harassment and violence plus laws that enable us to sue the cults and political groups and figures who campaign for bigotry, i.e., laws against hate speech. That kind of struggle is far more important than electing the latest version of the lesser evil to come don the pike. Our youth come before partisan political activity.

Angela Brightfeather | July 20, 2008 10:17 PM

Pam,

Here in NC, one of the big problems is always fighting the percieved fears of the religious right and their use of "dominoeing" those fears with other issues, like "hidden agendas".

We all know how much a school superintendent is going to stop bullying when it comes to complaints filed about it coming from GLBT students. The following morning the students parents are called in and have to confront a school psychologist and the parents from religious right organizations and defend their own children.

What NC needs is a coalition of accepting churches with a spokesperson who can speak to the likes of Creech and other groups who like to throw out straw men as arguments for why children cannot be safe because they are GLBT,

When someone starts to work on that project of forming an alternative religious platform based on acceptance and common sense in NC, then there will be some chance at success. Sometimes you have to fight religion, with religion and stand aside while the fur flies. In NC it is a no-winner for GLBT people to fight the ministers. It has to be other ministers that advance the argument.

It's too true - the Democrats think that issues like protecting kids in schools aren't winners, so they back off. No wonder people instantly associate "flip-flopper" with "Democrat" - it almost seems like they have no principles.