Friday, January 27, 2012

Anti-Bullying Bill Filed In Kentucky House

This from WLEX:
Louisville Rep. Mary Lou Marzian on Friday filed Anti-Bullying House Bill 336 (HB 336) in the Kentucky State Legislature.

The measure would strengthen Kentucky's current anti-bullying statute by enumerating protected classes of students who are disproportionately targeted by bullying peers, as suggested by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. This includes protections based upon a student's actual or perceived race; religion; sexual orientation; gender identity; physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability; and other distinguishing characteristics.

Updated from last year's proposed law, HB 336 incorporates language from a 2011 amendment by Elizabethtown Republican Rep. Tim Moore affirming a student's right to religious freedom of speech regarding sexual orientation: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit or deny the civil expression by any student of religiously based opinions on issues related to sexual orientation" (Section 3).

Though Kentucky passed a broadly-worded anti-bullying bill in 2008, tales of continued harassment along with the recent tragic suicide of Woodland Middle School eighth-grader Sam Denham in Northern Kentucky have prompted officials to pursue stricter language in the law. A House panel on education approved the measure last year with a nearly unanimous 21-1 bi-partisan vote.

A Feb. 22, 1:30 p.m. Fairness Coalition Rally will be held in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort to support anti-bullying legislation along with statewide anti-discrimination Fairness laws (SB 69, HB 188), which would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to a recent survey, 87% of registered Kentucky voters support stronger anti-bullying protections, while 83% of Kentuckians support statewide anti-discrimination Fairness laws.

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