I applaud the General Assembly for recognizing GLBT kids and their problems, but to single out any particular group for protection against bullying is idiotic. I am a teacher in a middle school (ages 12-14) and I can tell you, just as anyone else who has spent more than a day with teenagers, that the requirements for a bullying target are that one has to be breathing. Kids pick on each other for things as mundane as their height or as exotic as their ethnicity. ALL students should be protected from being bullied and putting anyone on a list, be they gay/lesbian, Jewish, or mentally handicapped only stigmatizes them more.
Yes Jeremy I take your point. But unfortunately so often the purpose of those opposing ‘specific mention’ is to water down the legislation so as not to give protection to a particular minority. We have seen time and time again that teachers will say that the bullying policy only applies to those listed or do not see that the overall protection applies to all. By making it clear that sexual orientation is covered you at least make teachers realize that they cannot hide behind legislation rathet like they did with Section 28. Many,many teachers and many, many schools took the view that section 28 prohibited them from discussing gay issues in schools. It did not, but it was a useful screen to hide behind for some. I agree with you that children can pick on any perceived diffference to have a go at another child and also agree that the idea of targets is often very counter-productive.
Thanks for mentioning this Section 28 thing that happened in the UK. I am a Canadian who lives in Raleigh, NC and I know very little about the goings on in the UK. I did a little research on it and it was interesting to see that no matter which side of the pond you’re on, prudish nitwits can manage to insert their own agenda where it doesn’t belong. Although I don’t think that the anti-bullying legislation has the same purpose as Section 28, the decision to include or omit gay students from protection under this bill could have similar effects. If a measure like Section 28 were passed here in the states I’m sure that schools and families would have reacted similarly to the way they did in your country. People are so eager to offend and be offended. I’m glad that reason won the day and the measure was repealed.
Jeremy. Section 28 was actually a piece of Local Government legislation rather than education legislation. The phrase used was something like ‘no Local Authority should intentionally promote homosexuality as a pretend family lifestyle’ (Not the exact words). No legal case was ever brought, but the effect for a great many schools was that it silenced any debate on gay issues, partly because of nervousness but partly because there would be those in education who simply did not want it discussed and could use the act as a means to silence discussion. This is why I come down in favour of specific mention of sexual orientation in such things as bullying guidance and legislation. It serves 2 purposes. It makes it clear to those that would rather not discuss the issue that it has to be addressed. And secondly it supports caring and sensible teachers like yourself who obviously see the need for bullying to addressed in an holistic and thoughtful way. Good luck with the lessons.
Wow, the only progressive piece of legislation that has ever passed in North Carolina!