Gay rights leaders from across Kentucky are supporting a bill that would strengthen the state’s current anti-bullying laws.
The legislation was introduced by state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, and would create or improve protections against discrimination based upon students’ race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or learning disabilities.
State lawmakers passed a broad anti-bullying law in 2008, but supporters contend it overlooks certain students and have ratcheted up support after the suicide of 14-year-old Kentuckian Miranda Campbell, who reportedly shot herself after being teased for being bisexual.
Louisville Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman says state and school officials should pay closer attention to students who are being bullied, but stricter laws should apply to prevent young people from being perpetually harassed.
“The legislation is pretty clear that school boards and the department of education develops what sort of penalties are associated with bullying incidents. But when there is physical harassment…when it rises to that level it becomes a misdemeanor as it would anywhere,” he says.