Alabama’s first openly lesbian legislator Patricia Todd recently pre-filed anti-bullying legislation explicitly prohibiting harassment of LGBT students—and it has more popular support than you might expect from the heart of Dixie.
A recent survey commissioned by Equality Alabama showed that nearly 70 percent of Alabamians support LGBT student protections and 50 percent support employment, housing and public accommodations protections for LGBT citizens overall.
The state’s Department of Education has already instated a model anti-harassment policy for school districts, but the policy excludes LGBT students. While some Alabama cities offer LGBT student protections, Todd believes the recent rash of LGBT bullycides have shown her fellow legislators the importance of explicitly offering protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
“If we don’t specify that, they won’t discuss it when they’re doing their training,” Too said. “They’ll talk about race or national origin, but they may be uncomfortable discussing sexual orientation.”