Author

Ian Palmquist is the Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, a statewide group working to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians. He also serves on the boards of Equality Federation and NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

Yesterday Public Policy Polling released a new statewide poll that proves once again the vast majority of North Carolinians want the legislature to pass the School Violence Prevention Act, a bill that would make our schools safer with anti-bullying policies that have been proven to make a difference.

Controversy has erupted over the bill’s listing of categories of students frequently targeted for bullying, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Why is that language there? Because we know that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students–and others who are just perceived to be LGBT–are among the most frequent victims of bullying and harassment, yet teachers and principals don’t consistently intervene to protect them.  Research has shown that policies that spell out that protecting all students really means all students, including minority students, make students safer.

Now this poll shows that most North Carolinians agree: 69% support the bill with sexual orientation included. That includes a majority of every single demographic: Democrat and Republican, East and West, black and white.

An amazing, broad coalition of groups representing parents, teachers, students and minority communities, Prevent School Violence NC, has emerged to support this bill.

The question is this: Will the legislature act this year to make schools safer? Or will they once again hand victory to a small but loud group of people who dislike gay people enough that they’re willing to risk children’s safety?