Anti-Bullying Bill Unlikely to Pass due to Floor Amendments, Sponsors Will Try Again Next Year

by Gabe Bullard on March 2, 2011

by Dalton Main

A bill that would—for the first time in Kentucky—protect students who are bullied because of their sexual orientation is unlikely to pass the General Assembly this year.

The Fairness Campaign’s Chris Hartman is frustrated by what he considers stall tactics imposed on anti bullying legislation this session. He says two amendments sponsored by Representative Mike Harmon are out of line and are simply meant to kill the bill.

“One [amendment] would preserve the right to conceal and carry a firearm on college campuses, which is really non germane to the bill. It has nothing to do with the anti-bullying measure at all,” he says. “The other one would really allow for verbal harassment, bullying and intimidation based on someone’s religious beliefs.”

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Mary Lou Marzian, says there’s not enough time left in this session to work around the amendments, but she’s positive about the bill’s progress.

“We made history, because we got it out of committee, for the first time we’ve had a positive bill that includes sexual orientation. It came out of committee 21-1 but we’re in a short session,” she says. “We will work over the interim to educate folks on it and hopefully bring it back next year when we have the long session.”

She hopes to educate people about it in the interim and is hopeful that legislation will pass next year.

Harmon was unavailable for comment.

Opponents of the bill say current statutes are sufficient. However, many advocates—including students—say bullying based on sexual orientation is prevalent in some schools.

In addition to sexual orientation, the bill amends an existing bullying statute to protect against specific topics including: race, gender, and religion.

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