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Anti-Bullying Bill Passes State Senate

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

An anti-bullying bill that passed Texas Senate today would require school districts to adopt a policy to prohibit, prevent and investigate bullying, both in person and online.

After more than 15 anti-bullying bills were introduced this session, Houston state Sen. JohnWhitmire's bill passed on a 30-1 vote. The bill now heads to the House.

Similar legislation is already in force in 37 other states, according to our political reporting parnter, the Texas Tribune.

In addition to adding a definition of cyber-bulllying to the statute, SB 205 requires districts to develop specific policies to prevent and investigate aggressive behavior from students. It also includes a provision that holds school district officials accountable for failing to address reports of bullying.

Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) was the only person to vote against the bill. Her spokesperson explained her rationale to the Houston Press newsblog Hairballs.

"School districts should be encouraged to develop policies against bullying, and I believe the provisions of those policies are best determined by school officials at the local level," she told Hair Balls through her press spokesperson.

Youth First Texas- an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered teenagers - is among the groups supporting stricter anti-bullying laws. It produced a series of web videos from teenagers giving first hand accounts of their bullying experiences.