Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington

The Texas Senate voted 30-0 this afternoon to approve HB 1942, a bipartisan anti-bullying bill from Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, that has become Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session. Because there was a technical correction to the bill in a Senate committee, it now goes back to the House, which has already approved it, for a concurrence vote. From there, it’s on to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. Although the bill doesn’t provide specific protections for LGBT youth, Equality Texas says in its fact sheet on HB 1942 that it would do the following:

• Amends the Education Code to allow staff development to receive training in the prevention, identification and reporting of and response to bullying.

• Provides for the transfer of the bully to another classroom or campus upon the discretion of the board of trustees. Currently, if a student wants to get away from the person who bullied him or her, the victim has to move to another classroom or campus.

• Mandates that the State Board of Education, “in consultation with the Texas School Safety Center” amend the health curriculum to “include evidence-based practices that will effectively address awareness, prevention, identification and resolution of and intervention in bullying and harassment.”

• Includes the definition of bullying in Chapter 37 (Discipline) of the Texas Education Code for the first time.

• Definition of bullying includes an “expression through electronic means”.

• Definition of bullying applies to “conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or on a vehicle operated by the district […]”

• Expands the definition of bullying to include actions “Exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrator and the student victim through written or verbal expression or physical conduct[…]”

• Mandates that each board of trustees of each school district adopt an anti-bullying policy that:

1. prohibits retaliation against anyone “who in good faith provides information concerning an incident of bullying […]”;
2. establishes a procedure for notifying a parent or guardian of the victim and the bully;
3. “establishes the actions a student should take to obtain assistance and intervention in response to bullying […]”;
4. “sets out the available counseling options” for the victim, witness to an incident of bullying or the bully him/herself.
5. “establishes a procedure for reporting an incident of bullying, investigating a reported incident of bullying, and determining whether the incident of bullying occurred […]”