State looks at anti-bullying bill protecting gay students

By Dedrick Russell - bio l email

Posted by Jeff Rivenbark - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Lawmakers in Raleigh are considering a controversial piece of legislation.

It's a new anti-bullying measure. If it passes, it will be the first time lawmakers have identified bullying based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

This has some Christian Conservatives in Charlotte upset.

Flip Benham represents Operation Save America and he is against Senate Bill 526.

"It's an attack upon Christianity," he said.

Steve Bentley, however, supports the bill.  He is the CEO of Time out Youth, a Charlotte-based organization that provides counseling for gay and lesbian students.

"I think it is a good and courageous thing," Bentley said. "Research shows that students who are harassed are more likely to have higher absenteeism, higher drop out rate, and lower grades. Anything we can do to minimize those negative impacts to our children, we should all stand behind."

The bill says along with race, religion, physical appearance, a student should also not be harassed based on gender identity and sexual orientation. If passed, school districts must come up with an anti-bullying policy by the end of the year.

"Bullying is wrong for everybody and it should be punished," said Benham.  "We Christians know that, but unfortunately, we want to put a special class of people in there."

But Bentley disagrees.

"Sometimes, if we don't name specifically what it is that we don't want people to do, they won't know those things are inappropriate," he said.

A final Senate vote on this bill could come within days. Then, it must go to the House for a vote.