Summer Break Soon For Schools, But Legislators Across the Country Continue To Advance Anti-Bullying Laws Nationwide
We’re just over a quarter of the way through the year, but 2019 has already seen significant developments in the nation’s state houses regarding bullying and harassment.
The following is a snapshot of recent activity by state:
ARIZONA: With bipartisan support in the State Legislature, Gov. Doug Ducey repealed a 1991 law this month that barred public school teachers from portraying “homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” in the classroom. The move was spurred by a lawsuit filed on behalf of two teens who contended the law had destructive impacts on LGBTQ students – namely, that it held teachers back from building tolerance among student bodies and contributed to bullying. “I am so proud of this 12-year-old and this 15-year-old for standing up and suing our state to do the right thing, because today’s vote is long overdue,” Rep. Andrés Cano said on the Arizona House floor. ” Our schools should be safe; they should be inclusive; they should be free from harassment, bullying and stigmatization.”
INDIANA: The Indiana House of Representatives rejected a measure that would have required private schools that accept state funding to follow the same anti-bullying rules as their public school counterparts. According to a report by WRTV of Indianapolis, the bill called for non-public schools to implement a protocol for investigating incidents, timetables for sharing information about incidents with police and parents, and to offer anonymous reporting option for students, among other steps. More encouraging for Indiana, is House Bill 1607, legislation that would allow students to get a protective order to stop bullying including cyberbullying.
MARYLAND: “Grace’s Law 2.0” will carry stronger fines and jail terms for cyberbullying and make offenses easier to prosecute. The law was named after Grace McComas, a 15-year-old who committed suicide in 2012 after being victimized online. McComas’s parents were on hand as Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bill into law this month. One of the most prominent changes to the law makes it an offense to post harassing content online for the consumption of a broad audience, even if the target of the bullying doesn’t see it.
MASSACHUSETTS: Gov. Charlie Baker re-filed a bill in February that aims to modernize the law regarding revenge porn, sexting and cyberbullying. The legislation would provide prosecutors with new flexibility to enroll minors who are caught sharing sexually explicit images with their peers into educational diversion programs, rather than charging them for the distribution or possession of child pornography. It would also require schools to educate their students on the harm they can cause by sharing sexual images with others as a means of bullying. In addition, the law would close a prosecution loophole for those over 18 who share images that were taken consensually for the purposes of revenge or embarrassment. The bill was first proposed in 2017, but failed to clear the Legislature at the time.