Today Rep. Rick Glazier, Rep. Tricia Cotham, and Senator Julia Boseman announced the introduction of the School Violence Prevention Act in the NC House and Senate this week. Also known as the anti-bullying bill, this legislation will help make all students, including those who are LGBT, safer at school.
While this bill will establish an unambiguous stance against bullying by other students, it will also make it clear to educators and school employees that harassment is unacceptable. Senator Boseman, struggling to keep her composure, remembered "Jim McGraw Daniels, 14, died of an overdose after being bullied at school. By teachers." The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) strongly supports the legislation.
Other supporting organizations include: The North Carolina PTA, NC Advocates for Justice, The Mental Health Association in NC, The Covenant with North Carolina’s Children, The NC Pediatric Society, Equality NC, The North Carolina Council of Churches, The National Association of Social Workers, The Arc of North Carolina, The NC Justice Center, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education NC, The Association of School Social Workers NC, Action for Children NC, The ACLU of NC, Prevent Child Abuse NC, North Carolina NOW, The Alliance for Disability Advocates, The NC Psychoanalytic Foundation, The NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, El Pueblo NC, The Autism Society NC, Young Democrats of NC, and North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.
Despite the uncontroversial nature of the legislation and the broad coalition of support for it, North Carolina's right wing is mobilizing to attack the bill. Tami Fitzgerald, a lobbyist for the hate group NC 4 Marriage stood in the corner of today's press conference, impassive even when listening to testimony of abused children. Opponents will undermine support by falsely claiming that the bill will create special privileges for some students (those often targeted for bullying), and by claiming that vague regulations are better than clearly articulated ones.
Anticipating political attacks, Representative Tricia Cotham stood up to the religious right today in defense of children:
"For years the other side has come up with excuses - I am sick and tired of their excuses when our children's welfare is at stake.
"There are some people who accept bullying in our schools just to advance a political agenda of their own, and that is wrong! Our children should be above politics."
Bullying and harassment has deadly effects. Victims are far more likely than non-bullied peers to attempt or commit suicide. By passing the School Violence Prevention Act we will save young lives.