Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Sexual Orientation" Bill Fails in North Carolina

News Observer

Bullying bill dies over gay controversy
Lynn Bonner, Staff Writer

Legislation designed to combat bullying in schools is dead, according to a
state senator who worked on the proposal.
The Senate had the bill, which would have listed gay students as potential
harassment targets, on its list of issues to vote on Thursday. But the measure
was sent back to committee, where it is likely to stay as the legislature works
to finish this year's session.

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.

The bill would have required bullying to be reported and school boards to set
anti-bullying policies.

Ironically, supporters said they had enough votes to pass it, but only if
everyone showed up. The Senate allows members who cannot be around for votes to
"pair" with senators who are going to vote the opposite way. When senators
"pair," their votes cancel each other.

Berger said the bill's opponents pressured senators who were going to vote no
not to accept pair requests from senators who would have voted for the bill.

Bullying is already against school policies, Berger said, but the only way it
is going to be seriously addressed is if people talk frankly about who gets

"The failure of this bill to pass, I think, it sends a bad message," Berger

lynn.bonner@newsosberver.com or (919) 829-4821


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