Gay advocates in Massachusetts are
cheering a just-signed anti-bullying bill they say covers gay youth,
gay weekly Bay
Both chambers of the legislature
approved the bill on April 29. Surrounded by schoolchildren,
Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on Monday.
While the bill does not specifically
list gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students for programs and
protections, gay advocates insist they'll be included.
In a newsletter emailed on Tuesday, Gay
& Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the gay rights group
at the center of the gay marriage movement in New England, said they
worked closely with lawmakers to ensure gay youth are covered.
“GLAD successfully negotiated and
drafted a compromise requiring teachers to be trained on the needs of
groups 'shown to be particularly at risk' for bullying,” the group
wrote. “Studies have consistently shown a disproportionately high
risk of bullying for LGBT kids, so we are confident teachers will
have to be trained on this issue.”
The law is similar to a measure
approved last month by the Illinois House. Under the law, schools
will be required to fight bullying by adopting anti-bullying policies
and provide professional training for all members of school staff.
Social conservatives have previous
decried such measures. Officials in California's Alameda Unified
School District drew heated protest after approving an anti-bullying
effort that included teaching respect for gay men and lesbians.
Opponents decried the curriculum as “formal instruction in concert
with the gay agenda.”
Activists worked on passage of the
measure for more than a decade.