Intro of School Violence Prevention Act

Today Rep. Rick Glazier, Rep. Tricia Cotham, and Senator Julia Boseman announced the introduction of the School Violence Prevention Act in the NC House and Senate this week. Also known as the anti-bullying bill, this legislation will help make all students, including those who are LGBT, safer at school.

While this bill will establish an unambiguous stance against bullying by other students, it will also make it clear to educators and school employees that harassment is unacceptable. Senator Boseman, struggling to keep her composure, remembered "Jim McGraw Daniels, 14, died of an overdose after being bullied at school. By teachers." The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) strongly supports the legislation.

Other supporting organizations include: The North Carolina PTA, NC Advocates for Justice, The Mental Health Association in NC, The Covenant with North Carolina’s Children, The NC Pediatric Society, Equality NC, The North Carolina Council of Churches, The National Association of Social Workers, The Arc of North Carolina, The NC Justice Center, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education NC, The Association of School Social Workers NC, Action for Children NC, The ACLU of NC, Prevent Child Abuse NC, North Carolina NOW, The Alliance for Disability Advocates, The NC Psychoanalytic Foundation, The NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, El Pueblo NC, The Autism Society NC, Young Democrats of NC, and North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.

Despite the uncontroversial nature of the legislation and the broad coalition of support for it, North Carolina's right wing is mobilizing to attack the bill. Tami Fitzgerald, a lobbyist for the hate group NC 4 Marriage stood in the corner of today's press conference, impassive even when listening to testimony of abused children. Opponents will undermine support by falsely claiming that the bill will create special privileges for some students (those often targeted for bullying), and by claiming that vague regulations are better than clearly articulated ones.

Anticipating political attacks, Representative Tricia Cotham stood up to the religious right today in defense of children:

"For years the other side has come up with excuses - I am sick and tired of their excuses when our children's welfare is at stake.

"There are some people who accept bullying in our schools just to advance a political agenda of their own, and that is wrong! Our children should be above politics."

Bullying and harassment has deadly effects. Victims are far more likely than non-bullied peers to attempt or commit suicide. By passing the School Violence Prevention Act we will save young lives.



Too bad Rick doesn't want to run for Congress. He would be so good.


Well, I was kinda vocal in discouraging him

He floated his name to run against Larry Kissell back in 2007. The uproar was more over the way he had his name floated by Jerry Meek right before the end of a fundraising quarter rather than over Rick and his credentials.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Rahm again

I don't think Rahm wanted him either. He thought he was too liberal to win in NC. He was all about Tim Dunn. Tim ran for about five minutes. Rahm wouldn't back Larry either. If he had Larry probably would have won the first time. When will they start listening to the people who are actually here?


A press conference you need to watch

This was not the typical press conference on Jones Street. When this video is available, you should take the time to watch it. Some legislators tear up at times. It is difficult to pick a best part. Take the time to watch it all.

A couple of links to coverage from Equality NC are here and here. Note the comments are enabled at Equality NC's new blog.


Bullying school districts

Let me first start by saying we agree on the underlying issue here, Jerimee. Bullying is unacceptable for any reason whatsoever.

But do you really believe this bill will stop bullying? I wish it could. I wish anything could. We can make murder illegal, but we can't stop killing. We can make rules about bullying. We have already but we can't stop it. No matter how many rules we put in place, some kids will still be ignorant. Some kids will make fun of others for wearing the wrong type of clothes or shoes. Some kids will make comments meant to denigrate others for their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. It sucks. I was bullied. I'm sure many of us were. Still, we can't legislate away intolerance.

What this bill will do is set a bad precedent for having state legislators putting themselves in the place of school districts, principals, and educators. Local school officials, teachers, administrators, and parents are the best people to set school discipline policy and they should be given the opportunity to do that. That doesn't mean the problem isn't serious or important. It just means that good educational environments are best created at the local level. Having state legislators bully school districts into adopting their policy for school discipline is not the way to fix the bullying problem. We should find common ground and attack this problem at the local level.

Thanks for comment

Thanks for commenting Brent.

Representative Tricia Cotham is a principal and educator. And the North Carolina Association of Educators supports the bill.

Teachers want clear policies that will give them the support they need to solve problems in the classroom.


If you had bothered to read the links you would have known that this family in Forsyth County tried your suggestion, and the system failed them miserably.

No one should have to go through what they did - at the hands of local teachers and administrators, not just students.

As the parent said the local superintendent told her, "That's why a state policy is needed."

Read the links.

If you prefer to watch a current North Carolina student tell about her experience, here's part of her story.


My point stands

Kate's story is sad and it's wrong and it's not acceptable in any of our schools. Still, my point stands. Edicts handed down from Raleigh will be ineffectual in solving this problem. Until you get into local school districts, get parents involved in the decision-making process, and change the way of doing business, you'll continue to hear stories like Kate's.

You have no point, only an illogical objection

Until you get into local school districts, get parents involved in the decision-making process, and change the way of doing business

As the links indicate, Kate's parents were involved.

The local district failed her.

This bill will change the way of doing business.


No it won't

It'll put a law in place that will just be ignored. It might make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and please the long list of lobbying groups supporting it but it will do very little to actually change the situations of students in Kate's position. That battle has to be fought in hearts and minds. My point was: You can't legislate away intolerance. You don't have to like it but calling it "illogical" makes it no less true.

Your failure of logic continues

We can make murder illegal, but we can't stop killing.

So you're now suggesting we not make murder illegal, because

It'll put a law in place that will just be ignored

Please, don't publish the names of your law instructors.


To Brent

You have made a case for why the legislation may not work, but not a case for how the legislation will hurt.

If the bill will have no effect either way, as you claim, why oppose it? It doesn't cost anything.

Makes no sense to me.


But it does cost us something. It costs us the ability to have parents and teachers and administrators and students being a part of this decision. It concentrates in faraway places and in little committee rooms in the General Assembly the power to make decisions that ought to made in classrooms in districts throughout our state. We can't have state legislators acting as principals, not just because I think the best government is the government closest to the people, but because state legislators aren't qualified to make these decisions. We need to encourage parents and local school authorities to deal with their problems and we need to not outsource them to Raleigh.

Why don't you man up

and say what's really on your mind? That if a student, "chooses" to be gay, and then makes the unwise decision to allow that secret to come out, the other students (and faculty) should be free to demonstrate how that behavior is unacceptable. From your Platform:

Homosexual behavior is not normal and should not be taught as acceptable. Public schools should not be used to teach children that homosexual behavior is normal.

Frankly Brent, your supposed concern about fixing this down at the local level is a crock. It's just a faux-concern cloak to hide your real purpose, which is to place the freedoms of those who would brutalize over the safety of children who are, "not normal".

And I have a feeling it also serves another purpose as well, which is to allow public schools to continue the downward trend of violence, which enhances the position of private and charter schools. What happened to that, "encourage parents and local school authorities" thing when you guys decided we should require that public school students pass national tests?


I'm sorry you feel that way. I can understand why the political process would cause you to become so cynical to think that those are my true motives. It's not necessary that your opponents actually be evil people in order to disagree with you. I wish I could tell you everybody in this debate had good and pure motives, but I can't. I can't read other people's motives. What I'll say is I think bullying is wrong for every reason every time against everyone. I entered this debate because I thought we had common ground and thought I could suggest an approach that would be successful in accomplishing a common goal. I could sit up here and say that people on your side just want to pass some symbolic measure to advance some secret agenda or to get a pat on the back or to preen before cameras, but I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to take their word for it that they think they are doing what is right. I just think if the goal is to actually prevent school violence then there's a better way to pursue it than just passing a law in the General Assembly.

I don't know why I do this

I'm so tired of having to defend my "logic." I know you desperately want me to be stupid so I'll be easier to disagree with but I'm really not. The justification for this bill as given by state legislators and groups supporting it is that it will end bullying. Unfortunately, it won't do that. Engaging local school districts with your ideas and arguments will get you closer to your goal. If you pass the bill, you won't solve the problem, you'll just have a bunch of state legislators patting themselves on the back and taking credit with their constituencies for "stopping" bullying. I know engaging local districts seperately and strategically would be much more difficult but it would also have a chance at actually making life better for these students. Sometimes the longest way round is the shortest way home. Please argue with the logic of that statement.

I don't know why you do it either

Replace "bullying" with "murder" and read your paragraph again.

Fun with headlines: Spokesman for Republican/Libertarian/Anarchist Party Calls for Repeal of Murder Laws


False premise

Your logic fails because no-one is claiming, as you assert, that this bill will end bullying.

You are basing your argument on a false premise. Even if it were true, 115 different bullying policies won't "end bullying" either. This bill is about getting students, teachers, principals, administrators and school boards focused on education instead of wasting time, and lives, applying their own personal definitions of bullying.


Right: teachers have asked for a clear, unambiguous policy.

I don't want to belabor this

But shouldn't the policy be: No bullying ever for any reason whatsoever against any person at all? I don't see the ambiguity in that policy.

Also for my murder comparison. You can make murder illegal, but you can't stop killing. That's why we have cops and DAs and judges and juries. To enforce the law. Because it doesn't matter what the rules are if the people who witness the wrong behavior won't enforce your policy.

I do

But shouldn't the policy be: No bullying ever for any reason whatsoever against any person at all? I don't see the ambiguity in that policy.

That is the policy now. Set at the STATE level by the State BOE. So do you object to that policy on your "state-level" grounds? You haven't - revealing yourself to be disingenuous on this point.

The current statewide policy you have overlooked, yet somehow desire, has also been demostrated to be ineffective (see all of my links above).

To enforce the law. Because it doesn't matter what the rules are if the people who witness the wrong behavior won't enforce your policy.

Exactly! How can you type this and still not get it? The teachers and administrators don't enforce the current vague policy. That's what happened in Kate's case. The superintendent told that to her mother's face.

Willful ignorance by someone with such potential is painful to watch. Please reduce your amount on this topic by reviewing the resources provided.


revealing yourself to be disingenuous

Brent it's hard to have a good faith conversation with someone who bragged about being the Nick Naylor of the NCGOP.

No offense, I appreciate your commenting, but I wanted to point out that we have a reason to suspect you for being disingenuous, namely that you style yourself as a master sophist.

That's fair

Much like Sean Penn, I realize that I sometimes make myself difficult to appreciate. Really, I have no reason to lie here. No matter what I say, most of y'all are going to think my cold, black heart full of deceit was the spawn of hell itself. I would rather not be judged on the irrelevant musings of my Facebook page and quotes from movies that I appreciate but it's fair to use it against me. For the record, my true rhetorical heroes fall more along the lines of Cicero and Socrates, Augustine and Aquinas, Lincoln and Reagan.

I honestly believe that if you and I sat down for a chat about world views, we'd find we aren't that different. We would probably agree about what kind of world we live in. We'd just disagree about how the government and citizens should respond to such a world. That's a coversation and a debate we can have with civility and without questioning each other's motives.

Anyway, thank y'all again for letting me air an opposing view. By doing so, you prove tolerance is more than a buzzword for you, it's a principle you live by.

It looks like Michael Steele would support the act

I lived in Maryland when Steele was Lt Gov, and he did a lot of harm to working families during his term.

Nonetheless, as RNC chair he seems to be having an increasingly positive impact on the world:

From Pam's House Blend:

I have to disagree

I think Chairman Steele would be right where I am on the legislation because he believes education is best left as a local matter. Kids get bullied because they are gay and they don't deserve it. Kids get bullied for other reasons and they don't deserve it either.

got it

So then we can count on RNC Chair Steele to oppose GOP efforts to inflict a Federal Marriage Amendment on the states?

Back in the sixties some notable GOP leaders were quite outspoken on the theme of "education best left as a local matter."

Rick Glazier posted this

Rep. Rick Glazier posted this on facebook. Hopefully he doesn't mind me cross posting it here:

Today we filed H548, the School Violence Prevention Act. This critically neededpiece of legislation touches everyone....please read on...

The touchstone of violence is not violent acts—it’s words. Words that cut deeper than a 1,000 knives and pierce the heart with more deadly precision than any bullet. Safety in schools isn’t going to be obtained simply by more SRO’s, metal detectors, or locks. Not when the time bomb too often is already ticking inside the school. The next shooter at the next school will likely emerge from the demon that sits smoldering inside the dark recesses of a child too long abused, too long physically harassed, too long left to fend for him or herself because they are or were perceived to be different by students and administrators alike.

This bill is about protection for your child and grandchild for when the bullied child explodes, it is our children in his path. It would be a sad commentary on NC life, so full of late of patriotic fervor and proud proclamations about liberty and justice for all, that we can not agree to list the most vulnerable children in our schools as potential victims of bullying—all because we cringe at the term “sexual orientation” as if it were a disease instead of the actual or perceived characteristic of the child we need to watch. Indeed, 433 of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies use the exact same term—“sexual orientation” in their employee policy handbooks.

Bullies made sixth grade a “living hell” for Jacob Rubin, an honor student, but he kept silent. Students teased him throughout sixth grade because his hair was long and called him “gay,” “faggot” and “homo.” The daily insults gave him stomachaches and affected his grades, but it was only after several boys beat him up that his mother finally realized what had been happening and intervened. A third of all students nationwide report being bullied, and an estimated 160,000 children skip school every day to avoid bullying.

Indeed, experts say that much bullying revolves around taunts about other youths’ sexuality. Recent reports from the Secret Service, US Department of Education and Congressional Quarterly make this clear. Gay and bisexual youths are five times more likely than their peers to miss school because they feel unsafe, according to a recent Congressional Quarterly study. And for good reason: Studies show that one-third of perceived gay students are physically harassed due to their sexual orientation, one in six is beaten badly enough to need medical attention and gay teens are four times more likely to be threatened with a weapon at school than straight kids.

When a child feels vulnerable, tortured and bullied, then no child will be secure. Every child is God’s child, whether exceptional by designation or simply unique by creation and they all deserve protection. It is as simple as that.

That's beautiful

I'm glad you posted it.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Sharing my Story

Here is a segment from a statement I said on local radio & posted about in a previous blog entry when discussing the Light up the Night for Equality event I was organizing for the triangle area of NC.

In a high school English class, I was partnered up on a Canterbury Tales assignment with a friend and classmate who decided to confide in me two things: first, that he was glad that I was his group partner, and second, that I was welcome to join him and a few other guys who were planning on beating up and maybe stabbing the only openly gay guy at our school, if he showed up to prom with a date. And I have to wonder if this semester-long friend of mine would have come up with such hateful plan, if he knew he was already friends with a gay guy?

We need this

policy to be specifically gay inclusive because some teachers will use their personal religious beliefs as a reason not to interfere with verbal gay bullying. That is a fact. Especially in Bible Belt states. With the language in place they can be called on it.

Here in Charlotte our school board passed a gay inclusive anti-bullying rule last year. There was some ranting and raving from the phobe brigade but it passed with a wide majority.

This bill would have passed last year if all our supposedly gay friendly pols had shown up when it counted. Let's hope they do what is right this time around.