West Virginia educators are considering an anti-bullying policy to protect homosexual and transgendered students from harassment in the state’s schools.
The state’s Department of Education is taking public comments through Tuesday about a new policy that will be considered for approval next month, said the Charleston Gazette
. If approved, the changes will go into effect next July.
The civil rights group Fairness West Virginia says the new rules are “a landmark achievement'” that gives political and legal cover to teachers, counselors, and others who might hesitate to intervene when it comes to students bullied becaus of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Teachers may feel they’re putting their reputation or job at stake by protecting a student,'” said executive director Bradley Milam. “But now, they can simply point to the policy.'”
However, the Family Policy Council, which opposes such protections, calls the policy “dangerous and expansive” and contends bullying “should be defined by a person’s actions, not the status of his victim.”
The council has issued several news releases in the past calling homosexuality “unhealthy, immoral, and unwise.”
West Virginia’s proposed policy outlaws bullying not only because of sexual orientation, but because of race, religion, gender, ancestry, national origin, and other factors.
Amelia Davis Courts, assistant state superintendent of schools, says the department is obligated under newly passed laws to develop a policy and begin collecting data on the reasons children are bullied.
“Obviously, we had to come up with a pretty comprehensive list that schools could use,” she said, “and the research we did found that sexual orientation is usually in the top three reasons.”
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