"This bill is important to me," said Alison Davis, the mother of three autistic sons.
Davis said all of her children are victims of severe bullying.
"My eldest son used to be throwing up on Sunday nights knowing that he had to go to school on Monday morning," Davis said.
She said the bill is good because it protects children with disabilities.
"What's best about this bill is that it does include specific language about what children and what groups are the most vulnerable, and for me, that includes students with developmental disabilities," Davis said.
The law would require schools to make anti-bullying policies based on a list of characteristics.
The lists would contain race, color and several other identifying characteristics, including sexual orientation.
Opponents say giving gays and lesbians special protection could lead to gay marriage laws.
"There is no question in my mind that that's what's behind this because the proponents of this legislation could have had a bill last year," said Rev. Mark Creech, NC Christian Action League.
Thursday's vote is as far as the bill has ever gotten. It's died in the General Assembly the past three years.
It will go to the House Judiciary Panel next.