By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com September 03 2011 10:26 AM ET
A 13-year-old boy's suicide last year prompted lawmakers in California to pass a law on Friday that orders schools to stop looking the other way on bullying of students for their sexual orientation.
The passage of AB 9, or "Seth's Law" after young Seth Walsh, means public schools are required to create policies for addressing incidents of bullying. They are also required to state explicitly that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not allowed.
The law passed through the state Senate on Friday and had already been approved by the state Assembly in June, so it now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.
Walsh, a 13-year-old from Tehachapi, Calif., was part of what seemed like a wave of suicides in 2010. Students widely acknowledged that he had been bullied for a long time for being gay, and the federal government investigated the school for a lack of response. His death helped prompt a national outcry for greater protections against bullying.
Wendy Walsh, Seth's mother, testified before the Senate Education Committee in support of the bill.
"I can't bring my son back," she told lawmakers. "But the California legislature can make a difference today to protect young people across our state just like Seth who are or are thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Schools need to take harassment and bullying seriously when parents or students tell them about it, and when they see it and hear it on the school campus."