A bid to curb bullying in public schools neared final approval Wednesday when the Louisiana House passed the measure 97-0.
The proposal, Senate Bill 764, now returns to the Senate for consideration of House changes.
The measure is designed to strengthen Louisiana’s current anti-bullying law, which critics contend is inadequate for today’s school problems.
“Unfortunately this is something we have to deal with,” said state Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington and House handler of the measure.
SB764 defines bullying as any pattern of obscene gestures; written electronic or verbal communications that threaten harm; taunting; malicious teasing, physical acts but not limited to hitting, kicking, pushing or damaging personal property and repeatedly shunning or excluding students from activities.
School employees would be required to undergo training on how to detect bullying, including the relationship between suicide risk factors and bullying.
However, it excludes specific prohibitions against bullying aimed at gay students or for reasons of race, disabilities and other issues.
Lawmakers said those provisions made the bill highly controversial and unlikely to win final approval.