Lehigh Valley Republican Rep. Charlie Dent signed his name to legislation this week to combat bullying at schools, which specifically includes the targeting of children based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Dent's support marks the fourth time this year that he has backed LGBT equality legislation.
Also this week, Dent railed against his Republican colleagues for bringing up an anti-abortion bill when they should be focused on the economy, telling DC-publication CQ-Roll Call on Thursday that "the stupidity is simply staggering." The bill, which would ban late-term abortions, is expected to receive a vote on the House floor next week.
Dent became a cosponsor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act after taking a meeting with Equality Pennsylvania advocates. Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey is the lead sponsor of the companion measure in the Senate. It was included in a larger education bill that passed a Senate committee on Thursday.
The bill calls on all school districts to develop a code of conduct to combat bullying and harassment. The codes must aim to protect students who are bullied for a number of factors, including their sexual orientation. Less than 10 House Republicans are cosponsors.
Adrian Shanker, president of Equality Pennsylvania, commended Dent for continuing to support LGBT issues. "Every student deserves a safe and bully free environment when they go to school," Shanker said.
Dent has also backed legislation that addresses LGBT equality in immigration law, the workplace and domestic violence protections.
While Dent has increasingly shown himself to be a moderate on these social issues, he has not come out in support of marriage equality. He has maintained that he will wait until the Supreme Court rules this month on two landmark same-sex marriage cases before staking a position.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun