Anti-bullying law would have sent strong message: Every student deserves a safe school environment to learn.

Below is an op-ed from The Charlotte Observer regarding a a
recent anti-bullying bill: 

Of the failure of N.C. lawmakers to approve a statewide school
bullying policy this session, we’ll let Rep. Rick Glazier,
D-Fayetteville, speak for us. “I think, sadly, the Senate was
truly bullied on the bullying bill,” he said of legislation the
N.C. House had approved earlier. “Much to the detriment of school
children, the politics of bigotry and hate won out.”

He’s right. Unfortunately, we in Charlotte could see it coming.
That’s because a few months ago, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school
board approved a beefed up anti-bullying policy, and some of the
same forces worked to derail it. The CMS policy, like the one N.C.
lawmakers debated as late as last week, included sexual orientation
among the characteristics school districts use to identify students
who are possible targets of bullying.

That, of course, caused all the fuss. Some conservative and
religious groups mounted a vigorous campaign to block legislation
that included sexual orientation among the characteristics of
students who needed protection from bullying. Critics such as Rep.
Mark Hilton, R-Catawba, said they objected because they believe
homosexuality is immoral.

They have a right to think so. But no child should be left to the
mercy of school bullies for that reason.

Policies should be firm and unequivocal about protecting students
from such torment. But too often, school officials and students
ignore intimidation of gay students – behavior they would not
tolerate against any other student. An explicit policy makes it
clear that ignoring such harassment will bring consequences.
Studies show that states with explicit school anti-bullying laws
have significantly less harassment than states with generic

The legislative debate brought out critics who saw the bill as an
effort to indoctrinate students with a certain view about
homosexuality. But as we noted when this issue was discussed in
Charlotte, no one with good sense and a good heart can believe it’s
right to bully gays. Even religious groups that consider
homosexuality a sin say they love the sinner.

School bullying is no small matter. Bullying affects students’
mental and physical health, school performance and, for too many,
their ability to become functioning, productive citizens after

Sadly, current anti-bullying policies adopted by individual N.C.
school systems vary widely and are inconsistently enforced. All
students deserve a safe environment to learn. It’s disappointing
that not enough lawmakers took the opportunity with a strong
anti-bullying bill to make sure everyone understands that.