Florida Students Support New Anti-Bullying Laws

They held a news conference in Tallahassee Monday to ask lawmakers not to leave out gay students and those who get picked on for their appearance in legislation to crack down on bullying.

Efforts to include sexual orientation as a protected category have bogged down this bill in years past.

One of the bill’s new House co-sponsors says he hopes his colleagues will recognize every child needs to be safe at school.

Rep. Scott Randolph, (D) Orlando, FL, said, “Because if we end up passing a bill that doesn’t include sexual orientation, I think we’ve codified discrimination and we don’t need to go there. You will often hear me say that government’s gotten too much in the business of putting band aids on problems, and we need to have the political courage to make sure we actually solve the problem instead of simply putting a band aid on it.”

A 2005 survey found sexual orientation the second-most bullied category behind physical appearance in Florida schools. More than 6 in 10 students who reported bullying said the harassment was because they’re gay or perceived to be gay.

The House K-12 Education Committee will hear one of the anti-bullying bills (HB 575/SB 116) Tuesday starting at 10 a.m.