Bullying is bullying no matter the reason

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 20, 2012

Bullying in American schools has taken center stage these days, and the attention has made people realize that bullying is a serious problem in our schools, and something should be done about it.

On Wednesday, a bill that would clarify and update the current anti-bullying law in Louisiana was shot down in committee, which is a shame, because anti-bullying laws should be made stronger.

Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, introduced the bill because he said bullying has led to suicides by students who are victims of bullies. The bill would also add to the list of bullying victims those who have a different sexual orientation or gender identity.  He said the current definitions of victims was “too vague,” and that without these added characteristics, schools would not think of harassment as bullying but just as “teasing.”

The House committee gutted the bill, and Smith had to shelve the bill because it now had no meaning.

This is a real shame, and shows how narrow-minded some of our legislators are when it comes to certain sexual orientations. Some committee members said adding sexual orientation would discriminate against religious expression. This is an odd excuse. We believe in the constitutional right to express religious views, but just because a person is gay does not mean they do not have civil rights. They are entitled to attend school without fear of reprisals or physical violence just like any other student.

Bullying has become rampant in our schools. Victims of bullies commit suicide because they do not know how to cope, or they cannot get authorities to listen so they can learn how to cope. On a more dangerous level, bullying has led to such tragedies as the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. The two murderers had been bullied and teased for so long, they finally snapped.

Bullying is not acceptable at any time. It only leads to misery, not only for the victim but the entire school at times. We urge the Legislature to reconsider Rep. Smith’s bill. It is not right to ban bullying against one group of students and not others. That is not fair, nor is it the American way.