Almost enough to make me anti-anti-bullying

3 Jan

Perhaps you heard the controversy about Michigan’s “Matt’s Safe School Law.”

Matt was a rising high school freshman who committed suicide after being bullied by upperclassmen in a “Welcome to High School” hazing. After his death, his parents campaigned for anti-bullying policies in all Michigan schools.

Seems like a no-brainer, no? I mean, who is for bullying?

During the 6 year campaign to the get this legislation enacted, proponents of Matt’s Safe School Law were horrified when the Republican-majority senate, who “only agreed to consider an anti-bullying measure that did not require school districts to report bullying incidents, did not include any provisions for enforcement or teacher training, and did not hold administrators accountable if they fail to act. And they fought back Democratic attempts to enumerate particular types of students who are prone to being bullied, such as religious and racial minorities, and gay students. But it was the addition of special protections for religiously [and morally]-motivated bullying that led all 11 Democratic senators to vote against the legislation they had long championed… Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer accused her colleagues of creating a blueprint for consequence-free bullying. “As passed today,” said Whitmer, “bullying kids is okay if a student, parent, teacher or school employee can come up with a moral or religious reason for doing it” (http://swampland.time.com/2011/11/04/why-does-michigans-anti-bullying-bill-protect-religious-tormenters/).

That’s right: legislators wanted to include a clause exempting bullies who claim their religious or moral beliefs are the real victims.

The good news? The permission to bully was ultimately removed, and Matt’s law was passed in December of 2011.

What I found most disconcerting, yet familiar, in this political kerfuffle was the notion put forth that anti-bullying is just a way to further the LGBTTQQ agenda: as if the values and aspirations of LGBTTQQ folks is necessarily separate from and in conflict with any possible heterosexual values and aspirations.

As if we couldn’t all possibly want safety for kids. All kids.

As if bullying is just a gay thing. See tomorrow’s post for more on that.

* If you want an entertaining perspective on this political snarl that turned a bunch of folks against anti-bullying (at least, proposed Michigan-style anti-bullying), check out The Colbert Report: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/401901/november-09-2011/the-word—bully-pulpit.

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