The Guilford County Board of Education has proposed a bullying policy that would expand the categories of students protected from bullying – a mirror of constitutionally questionable federal “hate-crime” laws, which are being challenged in cases bubbling up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The new policy would prohibit discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on a student’s “real or perceived race, color, creed, political belief, ancestry, national origin, religion, linguistic and language differences, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socioeconomic status, academic status, height, weight, physical characteristics, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, disability, or age.”
The policy would not limit the prohibition to those categories, but it goes much further than the courts have traditionally allowed in legally singling out groups. It also uses vaguer classifications (linguistic and language differences, academic status) than the courts have usually allowed.
The Supreme Court on Oct. 29 declined to hear a case, Randy Joe Metcalf v. United States, which challenged federal hate-crime laws. But other such cases are following, and some legal analysts expect the Supreme Court to eventually consider the constitutionality of such laws.
The school board has traditionally drafted its policies to match those suggested by the North Carolina School Boards Association, but, according to Board of Education member Anita Sharpe, it recently began mirroring the more liberal Council of Great City Schools.
Sharpe said she isn’t worried by the proposed policy, but thinks the list unnecessary.
“If I don’t like people with blue eyes, I can bully people with blue eyes,” Sharpe said. “If you start enumerating all the reasons, there’s not enough paper in the world.”
The school board is taking comments on the proposed policy through Dec. 14.