Topeka, Kansas School District Approves First Reading Of LGBT Anti-Discrimination Policy

A Kansas school district is considering adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination policy.

The Topeka Unified School District 501 Board of Education unanimously voted last week to approve a preliminary draft that adds sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the school district's anti-discrimination policies, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

While advocates support the move to be more inclusive, opponents argue that current anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies already include those groups, rendering the move unnecessary.

Cindy Kelley, the school district's attorney, told the Capital-Journal that the additions were the result of recommendations by the U.S. Department of Education.

"This will provide an internal mechanism to help kids understand that they have a way to deal with such harassment," Kelly told the Capital-Journal.

Topeka's initial passage comes as West Virginia just announced a proposal for an anti-bullying policy in schools that for the first time, recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as common reasons for harassment and school bullying.

West Virginia's Board of Education will vote on its proposal in December, to take effect next July.

These state initiatives to curb bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in schools come amid a growing movement among school officials and students to fight harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposals also come on the heels of a new California law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month and known as Seth's Law, that tightens anti-bullying policies in the state's public schools through a number of measures.