Texas Bills Seek Stricter School Bullying Policies, Addition of “Cyberbullying”

Though most of the focus involving education during the 82nd Texas Legislative Session will be on spending, some advocacy groups and legislators are pushing for education reform in the area of school bullying. School bullying entered into national exposure as a possible rationale behind the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Since then, most states have incrementally adopted legislation regulating school bullying.

The current Texas law, HB 283 of 2005, defines bullying and allows a young person to ask for a classroom or school transfer if they feel like bullying is impeding on their education. The recent string of high-profile teen and young adult suicides caused by cyberbullying, however, has some calling for stricter regulation and the expansion of the definition of bullying to include cyberbullying. An article from the Star-Telegram reports on the filed anti-bullying bills for this legislative session in Texas.
Several advocacy organizations are paying close attention to this reform in Texas. One organization pushing for reform is the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. It’s position on cyberbullying can be found here. Also, the issue tops LGBT organization Equality Texas‘s 2011 agenda because several recent suicides of gay and lesbian teens have branched the issue out into the gay community. One group wary of anti-bullying reform in Texas is the Texas Eagle Forum, as reported in the Star-Telegram article. Nationally, Focus on the Family has pushed back against heavy reform.

School Bullying Texas Legislation Tracker

There are eight anti-bullying bills in the Texas state House and Senate that I will follow throughout the session. Of these, Mark Strama’s HB 224 and Wendy Davis’s SB 245 are the most publicized and extensive measures. All of the bills have currently been filed (and Senate bills received by the Secretary of the Senate), but none of them have been introduced to their respective chambers yet. The bills include 82(R) HB 224, 82(R) SB 245, 82(R) HB 24, 82(R) HB 130, 82(R) HB 170, 82(R) SB 42, 82(R) SB 205, and 82(R) SB 242.

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