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House committee OKs anti-bully bill, includes gays on list of victims

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RALEIGH (AP) -- A bill that defines a statewide policy against bullying in North Carolina schools passed a House committee today, after members rejected an attempt to soften language about potential victims.

The Education Committee debated Tuesday and today over whether to include types of students that teachers should watch out for, because the list included sexual orientation and gender identity among the characteristics.

Representative Mark Hilton, a Republican from Catawba County, proposed banning the entire list. He told committee members he specifically wanted to remove the language regarding sexual orientation because he believes homosexuality is immoral. The committee rejected the proposal on a 30-to-16 vote, then passed the bill.

Representative Tricia Cotham, a school administrator from Mecklenburg County, said Hilton's proposal itself shows why the language is needed.

Cotham, a Democrat, said there are teachers who share Hilton's view, and they need to be reminded to protect all students from bullies.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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