Kessler said he now plans to try to amend an anti-bullying bill (HB3225) to protect students from bullying based on their sexual orientation -- or perceived sexual orientation.
"That's probably one of the typical types of taunts that kids throw at that adolescent age," he said.
That bill passed the House last week and it is now pending in the Senate. It is meant to prevent cyber-bullying and bullying at bus stops and on school buses.
Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, had sponsored another bill (HB2704) to toughen anti-bullying policies. It would have made school bullies undergo at least two months of counseling.
The House Education Committee never took up Poore's bill, which would have defined bullying as that based on sexual orientation, race, religion, disability and other characteristics.
Poore said she included those groups as "guidance, but it's not an exhaustive list." She said current anti-bullying policies are "very vague."
"There's certain school administrators and teachers that really don't understand what falls under bullying," she said.
Poore emphasized that her bill wasn't intended to only help gay children. She said all kinds of bullying have led to suicides, emotional problems and absenteeism.
"The intent was to help children," she said. "That is all we're trying to do, to put more teeth into the bullying [law]."
Reach Alison Knezevich at alis...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.