As the Kentucky state senate considers legislation addressing antigay bullying in schools, one senator wants to amend the measure to say it's OK for students to state that homosexuality is a sin -- and to allow the possession of firearms in school.
Mike Harmon, a Republican, has filed an amendment saying students would be allowed to express religious beliefs against homosexuality as long as their actions do not include physical harm or destruction of property, Louisville TV station WHAS reports.
"If someone, just in conversation, said, 'You know, I think homosexuality is a sin,' well, we don't want that child to be bullied because they have a certain moral or religious belief," he said. "And we don't want them, certainly don't want them to be labeled a bully just because they have that particular belief."
He also has filed an amendment that would allow gun owners with concealed weapons permits to carry the weapons on public campuses and keep guns in their vehicles on school property.
Democratic senator Mary Lou Marzian said the religion amendment is "very cynical" and the firearms one is not germane to the bill. Harmon defended the gun amendment as appropriate because the bill deals with school safety, and he contended that a well-armed school population might have been able to stop a tragedy such as the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.
He also questioned the need for a law against bullying based on certain characteristics, as Kentucky already has a general antibullying statute. Chris Hartman of the Fairness Campaign, a gay rights group, said the current law is insufficient to address bullying based on race, religion, or sexual orientation, which the pending measure does. LGBT students "are being bullied in very subtle ways and administrators are often either not acknowledging or ignoring completely," Hartman said.
A house committee voted last week to advance the legislation to the full house, but it has stalled there, WHAS notes.