by Fiona Morgan
The North Carolina legislature got one step closer today to passing a bill that would prevent bullying and harassment of children, but not without some rhetorical fireworks from one of the measure's most vocal detractors.
As Mark Binker reports for the Greensboro News & Record, the House Judiciary I Committee voted 9-5 in favor of SB 526, the School Violence Prevention Act, which would require school districts to adopt polices to counter bullying. The bill has already passed the Senate and is expected to reach the House floor this week
According to Twitter reports from the committee room, N.C. Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, a Republican from Apex, argued vehemently against language in the bill that would specifically protect children from being bullied on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill also includes language about race and religion. Its supporters say policies that spell out the basis of the harassment are more effective. The coalition of supporters includes the state Parent Teacher Association and NC Pediatric Society.
Stam reportedly called same sex parents "more dangerous than second-hand smoke."
Here are some highlights of the bullying discussion, presented in chronological order, with Twitter lingo intact. (Note: an @symbol before a name indicates that is the party's Twitter username. #NCGA is a hashtag that indicates the post pertains to the North Carolina General Assembly.) :
@PPCNC [Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina] #ncga Stam now fear-mongering, anti-bullying bill will lead to marriage equality-I wish
@PPCNC #ncga Now Stam saying having same sex parents more dangerous than second hand smoke, really over edge now
@gregflynn Stam is repeating lie about "30 sexual orientations". This is NOT in DSM-IV as definitions of SO. It's a lie. #ncga
As bills fly quickly through the legislature during these last few weeks of the session, Twitter has become an increasingly valuable resource for finding out the status and hearing discussion of legislation. You can read these accounts by searching Twitter.com for the hashtag #NCGA (for North Carolina General Assembly).
You'll see a mix of tweets (Twitter posts) from journalists, advocates and citizens of various political stripes. If you want to follow professional journalists' posts, we highly recommend @LauraLeslie (WUNC radio's capitol reporter), @binker (Mark Binker of the News & Record), @Josh_Ellis (of StateGovernmentRadio.com) and @Barry_Smith (of N.C.'s Freedom Newspapers).