Overweight, Poor, Bisexual…and Legally Discriminated?

As every state does, and as previously written about, Florida has a set of legislation in place to address bullying in the school system. This was initially put into play in 2008 in order to, as the title of the legislation states, “stand up for all students.”

Looking into it, though, this bill doesn’t exactly appear to do that.

Live Free Be Strong spent some time dissecting the anti-bullying laws to see the extent that students are actually covered.

“1006.147- Bullying and Harassment Prohibited–

(1) This section may be cited as the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act.”

(2) Bullying or harassment of any student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution is prohibited:”

Stopping there, the bill seems fully encompass the population that would be up for bullying. While all students are included, there are still only a few cases that are actually listed under the anti bullying law. These groups include:

  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Race

“Schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to address discrimination on a number of different personal characteristics.”

By having three personal characteristics, Florida does fit the bill. By having three personal characteristics, it is far below many other states ranked with having lower rates of bullying.

Take Massachusetts, ranked as having the lowest rates of bullying by WalletHub in 2015. Along with sex, race, and religion, Massachusetts includes groups like “color, ancestry, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, physical appearance” and many others.

So is there still legal discrimination? By not including these additional factors into our anti-bullying state laws are we making it easier for bullying to occur?

In 2008 “An act relating to prohibited discrimination” was sponsored by House Representative Skidmore, and attempted to “revise provisions to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and familial status as impermissible grounds for discrimination.” While this might have been a good step in the right direction, it ultimately died in the Committee on Constitutional and Civil Law before reaching the floor.

Are we ready to try again? How can we fix “the bullying problem”? As congress starts back up into 2015 committee weeks, Live Free Be Strong is ready to be keeping up and continuing to work towards equality and the safety of all.