Gov. Rick Perry, under fire of late for hosting a Day of Prayer funded by an anti-gay hate group, on Friday quietly signed the anti-bullying bill that became Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session.
HB 1942, by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, doesn’t include specific protetions for LGBT youth but for the first time requires school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies and adds bullying by electronic means to the state’s definition. The bill also integrates bullying prevention into the state’s health curriculum and allows districts to transfer bullies to another classroom or campus (previously, only victims could be transferred).
Last month, the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement calling on Perry to sign HB 1942. Although there was never any indication that Perry planned to veto the bill, he could have allowed it to take effect without his signature.
Also Friday, Perry signed a suicide prevention bill backed by Equality Texas and authored by State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. HB 1386 calls on the state health department to annually provide school districts with a list of suicide prevention programs. The bill allows districts to implement programs from the list and adopt policies on suicide prevention.
Coleman’s bill was originally called Asher’s Law, in honor of the gay 13-year-old from the Houston area who took his own life last year. However, Asher’s name, along with references to LGBT youth, were later removed from the measure.
Perry didn’t mention either bill in a statement released Friday about major legislation the governor signed and vetoed from the Legislature’s regular session.