The article on skepchicks and the further links in the comments section (including a link to the bill itself) reveal that new anti bullying bill voted for by the senate (but not approved by the house as yet) contains a get-out clause that would not prohibit
"a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian"
I think, in the end, it comes down to what you class as bullying. There no reason why people should not be able to express their opinions and beliefs, no matter what I personally think the validity of their stance is, but there is a problem when those opinions and beliefs are used to attack and hurt someone else. The interesting wording indicates that physical bullying will likely be prohibited, but verbal expressions based on moral and religious grounds are permitted.
So, do words do harm? "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me" is the phrase I remember from school. Words can't hurt or do harm?
Emoitional abuse can do lasting harm to individuals trapped in an environment where they cannot escape such abuse, such as relationships or work/school etc. Isolated and single verbally abusive incidents obviously do not do as much harm as a physically abusive incident. However, the problem is not single incidents, it is a progressive situation where the abuse takes place over a long period of time.
Statements of "sincerely held beliefs" in a directed manner over a prolonged period of time can take their tole, especially if the person also has similar religious beliefs. In my experience it is the manner in which those statements are used that can be the problem. Intention to do harm and the actions resulting from that can make simple words cut very deeply. It is more of an issue when people are vulnerable or sel-conscious in some way and have areas which the bullies can manipulate.
In this case they have probably done their best to avoid the religious only exemption that appears all to often for my liking by including "moral conviction", which would not exclude atheists etc. But it does effectively mean that verbal abuse and bullying of almost everyone is justifiable. It seems a shame that what could have had some effect is diluted down with such a statement. But in tody's world, could they really have done any better?
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!