CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Pubescent and adolescent students can be vicious, ostracizing certain classmates and tormenting them mercilessly -- even driving some to suicide. This cruelty is sometimes inflicted on teens suspected of homosexuality.
That's why Democrats in a U.S. Senate committee revised the No Child Left Behind Act to ban "verbal harassment" of gays in school. The revision passed on a party-line vote, with all Republicans opposing it. The change was sponsored by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who said:
"No child should dread going to school because they don't feel safe. Our nation's civil rights laws protect our children from bullying due to race, sex, religion, disability and national origin. My proposal extends these protections to our gay and lesbian students, who shouldn't ever feel afraid of going to school."
Bravo. We hope this safeguard passes the Senate and overcomes GOP opposition in the House, where many Republicans undoubtedly may try to kill it.
The Los Angeles Times commented:
"It's obvious that gay, lesbian and transgender students exist, and that they are often the victims of bullying and harassment. A 2011 study ... found that 82 percent of lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender students reported being verbally harassed, 38 percent reported being physically harassed and 18 percent reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation."
The strongest denunciation of gays comes from fundamentalists, who call homosexuality wicked and sinful. When West Virginia's Board of Education adopted a bullying policy that outlawed gay-taunting, Jeremy Dys of the Family Policy Council, told board members:
"If a student makes a comment in opposition to homosexuality and what scripture teaches about homosexuality, they could be in violation of the proposed bullying policy."
Dys argues that religious students "shouldn't be afraid of sharing the gospel to other students who hold themselves out to be homosexual."
Well, Leviticus commands that gays must be killed. Sharing that gospel with homosexual students surely would disrupt learning in public schools.
Most Americans are growing tolerant and accepting gays. They realize that homosexuals don't choose their orientation, which is created by biological factors not yet understood by science. State after state -- and now the U.S. Supreme Court -- have affirmed same-sex marriage.
The tide of history is flowing toward gay equality. We hope that bans on school bullying hasten this reform.