Anti-Bullying Legislation Advances to Senate
By Ryan Murphy
Capital News Service
Richmond, Va. – A bill to mandate training for Virginia public school personnel on how to handle bullying is on its way to the Senate after passing the House, 98-2.
House Bill 504 would amend the code dictating school safety training for public school employees to specifically include “evidence-based antibullying tactics.”
The bill, sponsored by Delegate Rosalyn R. Dance (D-Petersburg) was held up in subcommittee when superintendents and representatives of school boards around the state objected to a clause that would have required a student survey about bullying. School officials argued that the survey would cut into valuable instructional time.
After that clause was removed, the subcommittee unanimously endorsed the bill, and the House Education Committee followed suit, 20-1.
On Thursday, HB 504 came up for final approval in the House. Two delegates voted against it – Republicans Edward T. Scott of Culpeper and Lee Ware of Powhatan.
That vote sent the bill on to the Senate. On Friday, it was assigned to the Senate Education and Health Committee.
The legislation comes after a spate of suicides by students who had been bullied across the nation. The deaths prompted an outpouring of public sentiment that culminated in the “It Gets Better” campaign. The campaign seeks to help bullying victims, especially those harassed for their sexual orientation, cope with bullying.