Yesterday, we published a story on South Carolina Equality’s recent survey of 1,000 LGBT residents in the Palmetto State. The survey found that 48 percent of respondents had experienced bullying or harassment in South Carolina’s public schools.
SC Equality Director Christine Johnson (pictured right) says her group will be pushing for LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation:
“The survey clearly shows that S.C.’s gay and transgender youth experience more than twice the average amount of bullying and harassment,” SC Equality Director Christine Johnson said in a release. “2010 saw a rash of teen suicides as a direct result of bullying. We should be more motivated than ever to enact legislation that promotes safe learning environments for all our children. We look to our elected officials to lead the charge against bullying.”
The results of the survey are being distributed to all Palmetto State elected officials, including those in the legislature and the governor’s office.
Johnson told Columbia TV news station WACH she’s had some conversations with legislators already. She’s hoping to make some movement on amending anti-bullying legislation.
This week, South Carolina Republican strategist Wesley Donehue (pictured right) also explored SC Equality’s survey and near-term legislative goals. Posting at his ProcessStory.com, Donehue (also of Pub Politics) says:
There are many Republicans in the General Assembly who will flat out try to kill any bill providing more gay rights. They aren’t the problem for the S.C Alliance (sic). Their problem will be the many forward-thinking Republicans who are sympathetic to their cause, but won’t go for putting more laws on the books and creating a special protected class.
Asking for equality, yet pushing for exceptions, doesn’t seem to be helping. It’s a continual argument by conservatives, and a lot of gay-rights activists are probably tired of hearing it, but it’s common sense — raise the penalties on everyone. Equal protection under the law, be you gay, straight or somewhere else on the sexual continuum. Strong law enforcement benefits us all. Bullying a person because their gay, straight, white, African American or whatever is always wrong.
Unfortunately, Donehue is right on one point: Many South Carolina Republicans (and even some Democrats, mind you) will fight tooth-and-nail to stop pro-equality legislation. What’s sadder is that some legislators, like state Rep. Greg Delleney (R-Chester), will also fight to specifically exclude LGBT people from what should be relatively non-controversial health and education legislation.
Donehue says LGBT advocates in South Carolina want to create a “special protected class,” but the only Palmetto State politicos I see propping up special classes are conservative, anti-gay Republicans like Delleney. After all, what could constitute creating a “special class” more than designing legislation meant to offer education (or any other state benefit for that matter) to only those people of whom a specific legislator happens to approve?
That’s one question I’d love for Donehue to answer: Should dating violence prevention education be open to all, or does he stand by his Republican colleague’s “special protected class” for heterosexual teens?