Latest News

S.C. bill on teen dating violence removes reference to gays

COLUMBIA, S.C. — State House lawmakers have given key approval to a new teen dating violence policy that excludes references to gay relationships.

In a 75 to 25 vote today, the House approved a bill that will require the state's school districts to distribute information to parents and students about the dangers of abusive teen relationships. Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, included an amendment that all written materials reference heterosexual relationships only. After one more perfunctory vote, the bill heads to the Senate.

Bill sponsor Rep. Joan Brady, R-Richland, said she's fine with the amendment to her bill because most dating violence occurs in girl-boy relationships. Gay rights advocates have disagreed and said same-sex couples should be included.

According to a 2007 state Department of Education survey, nearly 14 percent of S.C. students reported being "hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend" in the previous 12 months.

"I don't want the Department of Education or school districts to teach children in grades six through 12 about (same-sex) relationships," Delleney said.

Gay rights advocates say Delleney's amendment is another attempt to ignore the gay and lesbian community.

"The fact that the state continually tries to find every way to ignore every other type of family ... it's just outrageous," said Ryan Wilson, president of the S.C. Pride Movement.

Later this month, Wilson's organization will sponsor same-sex domestic violence training for social workers, caseworkers and others.

"It's so important that we talk about this issue," Wilson said. "It happens in (same-sex) couples at the same level as with heterosexual couples."