RALEIGH — The headline at The News & Observer said it all — “Conservatives help stall bullying bill.”

Sifting through a flood of calls and email, members of the N.C. Senate have now pushed back their scheduled vote on the School Violence Prevention Act (HB 1366). If passed, the act would protect North Carolina students from bullying and harassment. The legislation also includes a list of enumerated categories protecting, among others, LGBT students.

While the Senate had been scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday, the current calendar shows the bill’s been moved to Thursday.

“We’re close,” EqualityNC Executive Director Ian Palmquist told Q-Notes. “I think we’ll really have a chance of getting it through the Senate. We’re working.”

The House, whose Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) originally proposed and sponsored the bill, is scheduled to vote today.

The first version of the bill originally passed the House in May 2007. When it was sent to the Senate, members stripped out the list of enumerated protections. A conference committee between the Senate and House added the protections back, but changed protections for “gender-identity/expression” to protections against harassment and bullying on the basis of differences in “masculinity” and “femininity.”

Palmquist said that while the removal of gender-identity isn’t ideal, the addition of masculinity and femininity in its place will continue to unequivocally protect transgender students. Several national LGBT organizations had agreed that the less-than-ideal language would still offer protections to gender-variant youth.

“Obviously, if they had completely removed any protections for transgender students, we’d be talking about a much different response,” Palmquist added.

EqualityNC is urging all of its supporters to contact their state legislators and urge them to vote “yes” on the School Violence Prevention Act. More information is available at their website:
http://eqfed.org/equalitync/notice-description.tcl?newsletter_id=25867054

View past Q-Notes stories related to HB 1366

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.