Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bullying Hotline Bill to be Heard in House Human Services Committee

HB 130 by Rep. Carol Alvarado is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Human Services Committee on Tuesday, March 1 at 2:00 pm (or later if the House isn't finished with it's business by then (which is unlikely)). The bill would create a statewide hot-line and website to allow students to report bullying if the bullying takes place on school campus or at school events. Reports of bullying would be forwarded to the students school principal, or if the bully is not a student to the local police.

Alvarado's bill is interesting because it doesn't actually say anything specifically about protecting LGBT students. It simply creates a statewide bullying hot-line, which will allow the state to compile statistics on bullying and also create oversight for local police and school administrators who may not wish to enforce the existent rules and laws against bullying.

Alvarado's first challenge will be convincing a relatively homophobic committee (even the Democratic Chair (Raymond) has supported a ban on gay foster parents and is decidedly against marriage equality) that HB 130 is not a "gay bill" - but rather a bill that would help all Texas students.

The second challenge is going to convincing "small government" Republicans on the committee like Morrison, Hughes Hunter, Laubenberg and Taylor that the State has any business meddling in the local affairs of a school district (that meddlesome state, just because they provide the funding and set the curriculum they think they can tell school districts not to let kids be mercilessly tortured). It's a difficult case to make in a legislative environment that seems intent on dismantling the government, rather than actually governing.

Alvarado's idea is so simple, so basic, that it's hard to find any fault with it. I suspect, however, that the committee will politely listen to all the testimony and then quietly sit on the bill, never bringing it up for a vote.

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