TRENTON, New Jersey, November 24, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The New Jersey legislature has pushed through a new law targeting gay bullying and establishing a statewide “Week of Respect.” The law, a project of local homosexualist groups, passed just one week after hearings were held on what is being called the most far-reaching legislation of its kind in the United States.
Known as the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights,” the bill not only forbids bullying of students based on their sexual orientation, but establishes a tight framework mandating the reporting and investigating of homosexual “bullying” incidents, creates a task force to protect homosexual students at each school, and provides for school personnel to be trained in anti-bullying technique.
The bill also establishes a statewide “Week of Respect” to be observed in early October of each year, during which the school will host programs on “harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention.” The provisions of the bill extend to public universities.
The bipartisan-sponsored bill easily passed both the House and Senate Monday evening, 72 to 1 and 30 to 0 respectively. New Jersey Senate and House panels had catapulted the bill into the legislature a week before, Nov. 15, the same day hearings were held.
Garden State Equality, the Anti-Defamation League, and the New Jersey Coalition on Bullying Awareness and Prevention, among others, have been working on the bill for more than a year; Equality lauded the passage of the “dramatically bolder” approach it helped craft.
Under the new legislation, each school is mandated to report to the board of education twice per school year the precise number of reports of mistreatment of homosexual students, “the status of all investigations, the nature of the bullying … the names of the investigators, the type and nature of any discipline imposed on any student engaged in harassment … and any other [anti-bullying] measures imposed, training conducted, or programs implemented.” A “grade” gauging each school’s compliance with the law will be posted on the school’s and school district’s website.
In a provision added to the final bill, it states private schools are “encouraged to comply” with its provisions, and exempts from censure “legitimate” expression of religious beliefs in private faith-based schools.
The bill also provides that anyone convicted of “bias intimidation” against homosexual individuals will be forbidden from any form of employment at a public school.
Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, who was present at the state capitol when the bill passed, condemned proponents for rushing the 23-page bill through “without even time for the legislators to read it, much less the public to see what it’s all about.”
“[Schools under the bill] wouldn’t just be teaching not to bully, they’d be teaching why not to bully. Knowing the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) crowd, they’re certainly going to be propagandizing respect,” Leiter told LifeSiteNews.com.
Leiter said that the press conference after the bill passed was suddenly shut down when the rabbi attempted to ask a proponent, the parent of a bullied child, whether she “can sympathize with religious parents with children in the public school system who would now be bullied under the current legislation.”
“They didn’t want me to have a platform to have that question,” he concluded.
It is unclear whether New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie will veto the bill. Christie, who is now famous for his staunch fiscal conservatism, has vowed to veto same-sex “marriage” legislation. Leiter said he has spoken with the governor’s office and felt that his message was heard; however, homosexualist groups have expressed optimism that Christie would condone the bill.
Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, called the bill “unfortunate” and urged Christie to veto the measure.
“It is unfortunate that a bill in the New Jersey legislature to tackle the very real problem of bullying in schools has been hijacked to serve a politically correct social agenda, by defining ‘harassment, bullying, and intimidation’ in terms of the characteristics of the victim, rather than in terms of the nature of the bullying behavior,” Sprigg commented.
To contact NJ governor Chris Christie:
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625