The Oklahoma House voted Monday night to kill a bill that would have outlawed cyberbullying and required schools to enact anti-bullying policies.
The bill’s Republican author, Rep. Lee Denney, said the 52-44 vote “absolutely shocked me.” Denney authored the measure after an 11-year-old in her district who was bullied at school committed suicide.
Opponents of Denney’s bill called it “overkill” and said it would represent another mandate placed on schools by the Legislature.
The Equality Network, Oklahoma’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization, released a statement saying the group is “deeply troubled” by the bill’s defeat. An earlier version of the bill passed the House 74-23 in March.
“This is really sad news for Oklahoma’s students,” said Kathy Williams, president of The Equality Network. “Each day, students are physically attacked and verbally terrorized in our schools. It is disgraceful that our legislators refused to pass even this watered-down bill to help administrators, teachers, parents, and students create safer schools. No one can learn in a climate of fear.”
TEN says a recent study found that only 20 out of 500 school districts in Oklahoma include sexual orientation in policies protecting students. Only two include gender identity. “These omissions leave LGBT students highly vulnerable in districts that do not explicitly protect them from harassment and intimidation,” the group said.