Parents of children who committed suicide after being bullied at school testified before the Kentucky House Education committee Tuesday, advocating a bill that they say would strengthen the state’s current bullying law. The measure would prohibit harassing behavior and communication based on a student’s race, ethnicity, religion, physical or mental disability, gender, and sexual orientation. Representative Ben Waide, a Republican from Hopkins County, said he opposed the bill because it would provide special rights to certain people.
“If this law were to pass, then we would be placing into our school statutes for the first time in history, gay rights language. Why don’t we protect all students?”
Other lawmakers said they believe the current bullying law is sufficient and that schools and parents need to have a better discussion about how to enforce it. The latest proposal has the support of the Kentucky Fairness Coalition but is opposed by the Family Foundation. It failed to get the 15 votes need for passage out of committee.
State lawmakers in the House Education committee heard testimony today Tuesday from friends and family members of bullying victims. Cynthia Logan’s daughter Jessica committed suicide at age
“They are our children. And when they go to school, the schools have a custodial duty to ensure the well-being and safety of a child. No child can learn in a hostile environment.”
House Bill 336, sponsored by Representative Mary Lou Marzian of Louisville, would more clearly define harassment and bullying. It would protect students from bullying based on a student’s actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender, or other distinguishing personal characteristic. Lawmakers who voted against the measure said a bullying bill signed into law in 2008 is sufficient to protect students, but that it needs to be better enforced.