As I have written before hereand here, Virginia's current anti-bullying laws are nothing less than a joke and school personnel who fail to address bullying are pretty much given blanket immunity while the bullies face virtually no consequences - even when the bullying leads to a student's suicide as happened last May at Grafton High School in nearby York County in the case of Christian Taylor (pictured at right). In Taylor's case, his principal bully continues to strut around the school and likely bullies others - still with zero consequences.
Now, two members of the Virginia General Assembly - one gay and one straight have introduced bills that would address this shameful deficiency in Virginia's laws.
These bills deserve passage yet I am sure will be strongly opposed by the Christianists at The Family Foundation (a Focus on the Family and FRC affiliate) who want no conceivable constraints on their ability to denigrate and make life a living hell for LGBT students and others who do not subscribe to their vile and perverted version of Christianity. One can only hope that all too spineless members of the General Assembly with for once stand up to Victoria Cobb and her fellow hate merchants. Here are highlights from the Washington Blade's coverage:
Two members of the Virginia House of Delegates -- one gay, one a straight ally -- have introduced two anti-bullying bills that, if successful, will be major accomplishments in the coming legislative session considering how difficult activists and elected officials there have found getting pro-LGBT legislation passed.
Del. Adam Ebbin, who represents Virginia's 49th House District, which includes parts of Arlington County, Alexandria and Fairfax County, has introduced legislation that would make bullying a class one misdemeanor, give victims the right to sue bullies who are sanctioned or found guilty, provide for expulsions for bullies and require that any bullying that causes injury be reported to the state's attorney. Ebbin is the only openly gay member of the House of Delegates.
Del. David Englin, who represents the state's 45th House District which includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties and Alexandria, has introduced the "Anti-Bullying Responsibility Act," which would add specificity to the codes of student conduct already required of state school districts, require schools to have procedures in place to separate victims from bullies, make bullying intervention a requirement for teachers, require incidents to be reported to superintendents and hold administrators responsible for their local policies.
Ebbin's bill, for instance, adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the definition of bullying even though some districts, such as his, already have that specified. He said having those areas identified is important because in some parts of the state, educators don't take anti-gay bullying seriously.
Ebbin said he was inspired to introduce the legislation in part because of the late Christian Taylor, a 16-year-old freshman at Grafton High School in Yorktown, Va., who committed suicide last May after enduring months of bullying. He hung himself in his bedroom. His mother told reporters they had reported the bullying to school administrators and police but nothing was done. Police said they looked into the situation but turned it over to the school when they determined no crime had been committed. Ebbin said one bully told Taylor, "you need to just go commit suicide and get it over with."