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Kentucky House panel rejects adding sexual orientation to anti-bullying law

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
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FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill that would have expanded Kentucky’s anti-bullying laws by linking harassment to sexual orientation, race and other characteristics, died in the House Education Committee on Tuesday after facing opposition from Republican lawmakers.

House Bill 336, sponsored by state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville), would have required schools to implement a code of conduct that bans bullying and harassment motivated by a student’s race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or learning disabilities, reported the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The measure fell two votes short of having the required 15 votes needed to clear the committee — all Republicans voted against the bill, except two who abstained.

Critics argued that the state’s existing anti-bulling law, passed in 2008, provides sufficient safeguards. But Marzian, who pledged to keep the issue alive this session, said language to identify students by group would strengthen protections.

“I’m astounded at the lack of compassion among Republicans who claim to care about people, but obviously they don’t,” Marzian said after the meeting. “It’s typical of their all talk and no action.”

“If this bill does not get on to the House, if it does not get through the Senate, my daughter’s death will be in vain,” said Travis Campbell of Hopkinsville, whose 14-year-old daughter fatally shot herself on Feb. 4 after classmates taunted her for being bisexual.

Campbell, who still carries the bullet in his pocket, said teachers “couldn’t or wouldn’t” protect his daughter.

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