Texas to consider gay-inclusive anti-bullying legislation

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The Texas legislature will consider a number of bills designed to reduce bullying in schools, following a spate of LGBT suicides in the past four months.

At least seven bills related to the issue have been filed ahead of next year’s legislative session, the Star-Telegram reports.

The most comprehensive was filed by Democrat Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth. Her bill, SB 245, makes reference to both sexual orientation and trans status.

Austin Representative Mark Strama, a Democrat, has filed a similar bill (HB 224) although his does not currently refer to trans students. He has said he may widen it to include gender identity.

Last month, Equality Texas said that that earlier drafts of the bill did refer to gender identity/expression and it was not clear why this has been removed.

Mr Strama proposed a similar bill in 2009 but it ran out of time in the House. His new bill has been backed by Facebook.

Both bills would require school districts to record incidents of bullying and whether they are based on prejudice. The bills would also require training for school staff and strategies against cyber-bullying.

Texas currently requires schools to prohibit bullying in their codes of conduct. But campaigners say this does not go far enough.

In the last few months, the US has seen a spate of reported suicides among LGBT teenagers. Many were said to have been bullied for their sexual orientation or trans status.