On the Local Front

The WV BOE changed the bullying rules:

For the first time in state history, gay and lesbian students will be expressly protected from school bullying after the West Virginia Board of Education unanimously adopted a new anti-bullying policy Wednesday.

Under the new policy, bullying based on 13 categories including race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation and “gender identity or expression” qualifies as a Level 3 disciplinary offense.

Punishments for harassment can range from detention to suspension from school for 10 days. Students can also be punished for “vulgar or offensive speech” online if it disrupts school learning.

“Students and teachers alike are entitled to a safe educational environment,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “This policy addresses behavior and school safety comprehensively by addressing inappropriate behaviors proactively to promote safe and supportive learning conditions.”

I like most of this, but my gut instinct is to be troubled by the “vulgar or offensive speech” aspects.

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33 replies
  1. 1
    kindness says:

    To some that would mean you couldn’t say nice things about Presidents who are black.

  2. 2
    Makewi says:

    I hate the whole protected class aspect of stuff like this. Bullying is wrong regardless of the “reasons” behind it, so saying it’s more wrong because the victim is gay versus small and weak is just BS to me.

  3. 3
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I like most of this, but my gut instinct is to be troubled by the “vulgar or offensive speech” aspects

    Does that mean we are all bullies now?

  4. 4
    negative 1 says:

    As it currently stands there is not a lot of ways to protect against cyberbullying. I believe that the ‘vulgar or offensive speech’ online is a nod towards that. Not that it can’t be abused, but I wouldn’t necessarily be so skeptical of its adoption.

  5. 5
    Dork says:

    Do any of those 13 protected catagories include inbred kids and those with meth teeth? If not, WV dropped the ball.

  6. 6
    Corbin Dallas Multipass says:

    @Makewi:

    I hate the whole protected class aspect of stuff like this. Bullying is wrong regardless of the “reasons” behind it, so saying it’s more wrong because the victim is gay versus small and weak is just BS to me.

    This.

    This isn’t like hate crimes where we had legislation against crimes initially. No one was taking bullying seriously in the first place, so having special categorization of anti-bullying policy just sounds weird.

    Though unfortunately that article doesn’t specify all 13 qualifiers.

  7. 7
    superking says:

    Yeah, I hope the “if it disrupts school learning” is a real qualification on the implementation of the punishments. There are ways that online bullying can interfere with schools, even when it happens outside of the school, but they need to be careful with that.

  8. 8
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Makewi:

    I hate the whole protected class aspect of stuff like this. Bullying is wrong regardless of the “reasons” behind it, so saying it’s more wrong because the victim is gay versus small and weak is just BS to me.

    Yeah, why should someone get punished more harshly for burning a cross in their black neighbor’s yard than in their white neighbor’s yard? It’s not like there’s any kind of history of terrorist organizations burning crosses in black people’s yards, so the message is exactly the same, amirite?

  9. 9
    tkogrumpy says:

    This is a step in the right direction. It can be tweaked later if necessary. Hat’s off to WV.

  10. 10
    patroclus says:

    I think Senator Wyden is bullying me by working with Paul Ryan to destroy Medicare. I hope that the WV BOE appropriately sanctions him for it.

  11. 11
    khead says:

    This is more Kay’s department, I think, but can anyone shed some light on this kind of “public-private partnership” for schools?

    WELCH — A coalition that includes Fortune 500 companies, labor unions and nonprofit foundations plans to spend the next five years focused on rescuing a West Virginia school district, one of the country’s most downtrodden, state education officials learned Thursday.
    McDowell County is the target of a public-private sector campaign that its organizers consider the first of its kind. They aim to turn around the county’s underperforming schools by also tackling such related problems as poverty, substance abuse and outdated infrastructure.
    The American Federation of Teachers has assembled the partnership. Union President Randi Weingarten outlined the Reconnecting McDowell covenant to the state Board of Education on Thursday. The board is expected to vote to join the partnership.

  12. 12
    Makewi says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Unfortunately the small and weak, the overweight, the ugly and smelly, the weird, the dungeons and dragons players or the socially awkward hipsters, the bad dressers and dorks aren’t always gay or black so they can just go fuck themselves. amirite?

    I mean there’s no history of bullying for those youthful outcasts.

    Just tell then to be normal.

  13. 13
    Dan says:

    Actually, there’s a very good reason to have ennumerated categories of protetction in anti-bullying laws and policies. Research shows that without such ennumerated categories, the laws and policies have little effect, primarily because not enough attention is paid to training teachers on the different manifestations of bullying.

  14. 14
    Yevgraf says:

    What the hell use is there in being a ‘Murkan if you can’t bully kikes, niggers, queers, spics or dykes? These kids are missing out on the best parts of childhood.

    I want my country back!

    /snark

    /Teatard

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Makewi:

    Yes, because the anti-bullying policy says it’s A-OK to bully everyone except the protected classes, just like hate crime laws mean that it’s now A-OK to murder anyone you want as long as you don’t do it because of their race.

  16. 16
    Schlemizel says:

    I sure hope this is not going to interfere with my God mandated right to point out that those figs & deyekes are all going to burn in hell and should be stoned to speed their arrival there.

    That would make us poor Christians the real victim of bullies – PC BULLIES!!1

    ETA: DAMN! tossed into moderation, I supposes because of “figs and deyekes”

  17. 17
    rea says:

    I quite see the reason for prohibiting online “vulgar and offensive speach” with the qualifiiation “if it affects school learning” but the problem is that the qualification has a history of not being taken very seriously. Do a Google search on “Bong hits for Jesus” and you will see what I mean.

  18. 18
    Makewi says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    No, what they say is that it’s somehow worse to stick a kids head in the toilet for being gay than it is for being fat. Which, as I have stated, is complete bullshit. It also says that the gay kid needs more protecting that the fat kid, which again, is bullshit.

  19. 19
    Zagloba says:

    @Dan: Research shows that without such ennumerated categories, the laws and policies have little effect, primarily because not enough attention is paid to training teachers on the different manifestations of bullying.

    Indeed. This language basically puts a requirement in the law against turning a blind eye to gender/sexuality-based bullying. In particular, it explicitly opens a school or district which chooses to ignore it up to civil and criminal liability.

  20. 20
    Chris says:

    Bullying is a real problem, but that doesn’t mean that a heavy-handed law enforcement approach is the solution. The word “bullying” is getting to be like the word “terrorism” — something that gets thrown around rhetorically to justify increasingly authoritarian approaches to discipline and education generally.

    My more complete thoughts here.

  21. 21
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Honestly, “vulgar and offensive” words are troubling here? Civil libertarians end up in some IMHO strange places. I wonder how Greenwald feels about bullying, hate speech, etc.

  22. 22
    RobertB says:

    Here are the proposed rules changes, if anyone cares to dig:

    http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/p4373_co.pdf

    My take is one that’s been listed upstream – if there was any wiggle room in trying to make gay bashing, etc != bullying, it’s gone now. IANAL, YMMV, etc.

  23. 23
    Yevgraf says:

    @Makewi:

    No, what they say is that it’s somehow worse to stick a kids head in the toilet for being gay than it is for being fat.

    Tears running down a fat kid’s cheeks are still acceptable. After all, how else can society create the pathology that develops into full-on Teatardism if not by bullying fat, uncoordinated kids from early childhood?

  24. 24
    gaz says:

    safest thing I think would be to establish a pattern of abusive behavior…

    otherwise I see all kinds of kids getting swept up in this…

    not saying the above would be perfect, but this may have the potential to create a worse problem than it solves.

  25. 25
    campionrules says:

    These new laws will present interesting First Amendment case law in the years to come I imagine.

    While speech in schools is restricted – or rather – can be more restricted, eventually someone will sue under the first amendment with regard to online posting.

    And too be honest, they probably will win as long as it is not connected to the school. i.e. not on school property.

    Vulgar and offensive speech is still free speech.

  26. 26
    Makewi says:

    @Yevgraf:

    Just tell the fat kid to try out for football, and if Glee has taught me anything it’s that the gay kid will probably be an excellent kicker. Problem solved.

  27. 27
    Makewi says:

    In regards to the free speech issue, the high court has consistently held that schools have a right to limit the speech of students. I think they’ve overreached on that score, but they disagree.

  28. 28
    Makewi says:

    Sic Semper Chess Club!

  29. 29
    Hob says:

    Makewi: here’s the previous policy, which already clearly defined bullying broadly enough to include your examples of harassment based on weight, nerdiness, etc. The recent change didn’t eliminate any of that. It just adds that schools have to keep track of what specific kinds of bullying they’ve been seeing a lot of, and the anti-gay kind is one of many categories that they’re required to keep track of in that way. I don’t see how that in any way privileges it over the other categories. But, not incidentally, it does make it a lot harder for a teacher/parent/principal to say “Oh that’s not really bullying, it’s just an expression of religious belief.” If you have a problem with that, tough.

    (I do have to give you a little credit for apparently caring about something other than your usual troll-fare… even if you didn’t care enough to find out what you were talking about.)

  30. 30
    tgp says:

    There is a real question as to whether or not schools have the power to regulate speech that occurs online regardless of whether or not it disrupts the learning environment etc. IIRC there are circuit splits on the jurisdiction of schools to reach speech posted on the internet from off campus locations. The applicability of the Tinker standard to online speech is common moot court problem right now.

  31. 31
    Makewi says:

    @Hob:

    The Old:

    a. Bullying/Harassment/Intimidation. A student will not bully/intimidate/harass another student. According to W.Va. Code §18-2C-2, “harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any intentional gesture, or any intentional written, verbal or physical act or threat that: (a) a reasonable person under the circumstances should know will have the effect of : (1) harming a student; (2) damaging a student’s property; (3) placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person; or (4) placing a student in reasonable fear of damage to his or her property; or (b) is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for a student.

    The new:

    Acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that are reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics, shall be reported using the following list: race; color; religion; ancestry; national origin; gender; socioeconomic status; academic status; gender identity or expression; physical appearance; sexual orientation; mental/physical/developmental/ sensory disability; or other characteristic.

    In general terms, I have little problem with this, if it stopped there. Sadly it does not. It contains, according to the article you linked, “more stringent consequences for “a complaint of racial, sexual and/or religious/ethnic harassment or violence,””.

    So were back to my general complaint that a gay swirly is somehow worse than a fat kid swirly is just obscene. If you don’t like it, tough.

  32. 32
    Makewi says:

    @tgp:

    See Morse v. Frederick for the direction the court is leaning regarding student speech off campus. I expect this to be the standard they use for online speech.

  33. 33
    sherifffruitfly says:

    I’m guessing that bullied gay folks don’t share your “concern”.

    YAY PRIVILEGE

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