Legislation that will be considered by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday would call for training and standards to prevent dating violence among middle and high school students — but only the straight ones.
A line inserted in the bill defines a dating partner as someone in a “heterosexual relationship.” Therefore, under the existing language, the state Department of Education and individual school districts will be responsible for developing prevention, reporting, and disciplinary procedures for cases of dating violence only in heterosexual cases.
Responsible school districts aren’t likely to exclude gay and lesbians students in this important program, says Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, a Charleston-based gay advocacy group.
But he’s concerned that some teachers and administrators might take the wiggle-room afforded in this bill and ignore the signs that a gay student is the victim of dating violence. Studies suggest that gay students are just as likely to face these kinds of problems. They may be at even greater risk due to the secrecy often involved in their relationships.
SC Equality, a statewide gay rights organization, is calling for opponents to the bill’s language to attend the committee hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Gressette Building on the Statehouse grounds, Room 105.
Teaser art by flickr user diongillard.