How can a politician have their cake and eat it as well? That is easy, write an exemption into a bill that, basically, guts the bill and makes it worthless. In Michigan, this is what they did. The Michigan Senate decided to put in some interesting language at the very last minute so that they could gut the anti-bullying bill without actually killing it. The bill now reads that it does 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.”
So, since it is ‘my’ sincerely held religious belief that I can go around bashing Christians in the knee, then this is just fine, right? It is not a violation of the anti-bullying law. The bill would require school districts to have procedures in place to address bullying, though.
It is likely that this is meant to stop from being considered bullying statements like “I believe that homosexuality is a sin”, but given how it is worded, that is not how it will be interpreted.
Kevin Epling, whose son Matt Epling killed himself in 2002 after being bullied, said that the added language will allow anyone to bully a student and cite their religious beliefs. He has worked with lawmakers for years to developed anti-bullying legislation.
“This is just unconscionable. This is government-sanctioned bigotry,” said Epling of East Lansing, who said he is “ashamed” that lawmakers added the language at the last minute.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder wants Michigan to adopt such an anti-bullying law, but it is also likely that they are desperately trying in the Republican Party to avoid having to deal with the issue of having the anti-LGBT groups crying foul.
The Democrats want a measure that will be more detailed and actually protect students given the fact that the Republicans have, pretty much, gutted the bill. They also want outlined the exact reasons why a student cannot be bullied such as sexual orientation, race or weight.
Republicans are saying that just requiring the districts to develop policies would be key in moving forward and Republican state Senator Rick Jones stated that “This bill may not be perfect, but it certainly gets us on the road to making sure that local communities pay attention to this problem and put a policy in place.” Which it will not do, as per the latest examples out of Ohio.