Anti-Gay Bullying in Schools—Are Anti-Bullying Statutes the Solution?
Lisa C. Connolly
In the last decade, anti-bullying legislation has rapidly proliferated, motivated in part by a string of highly publicized suicides by bullying victims—many of whom were targeted because of their sexual orientation. Despite heightened attention to the issue of anti-gay bullying, few statutes extend explicit protection to sexual minorities. In this Note, I argue that statutory proscriptions against bullying speech targeted at LGBT youth are necessary to ensure full protection for this particularly vulnerable group. Such limitations are constitutional under Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court’s seminal case on student speech. Just as importantly, explicit prohibitions on anti-gay speech place state authority behind a clear message that LGBT students are just as important as their heterosexual peers. This message helps construct a reality that leaves no room for anti-gay bullying—where full equality for sexual minorities is the norm, rather than the exception.