Extra Credit

Charter schools bill amendment removes LGBT protection

Fairness West Virginia, an LGBT activist group, is reporting that the House Education Committee amended the charter schools bill Wednesday night by removing language that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from discrimination.

Those protections were included in the bill when it passed the Senate earlier this week. They also are consistent with state Department of Education policies that prohibit bullying or harassment in any public school regarding a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Not much is known of the amendment or who voted for it, but Fairness West Virginia says the change limits protections to classes already listed in state code, which currently does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

The group has asked supporters to call their delegate and demand the bill’s original protections be restored.

In a social media post, Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, West Virginia’s first openly gay legislator, said the amendment was proposed by a Democrat and received bipartisan support. He also said education chairwoman Delegate Amanda Pasdon, R-Monongalia, voted against the amendment and should be commended for standing up for LGBT students.

Calls to Skinner and the education committee office for more information have not been returned yet.

The committee took the bill up for the first time late Wednesday night after debate on a “forced pooling” bill on the House floor pushed back committee meetings several hours.