Ridiculous Anti-Bullying Law Gives Bullies State's Protection (VIDEO)

fistTeaching our kids about bullying seems pretty cut and dried, right? We tell them "don't do it," and then expect them to listen. If a nation of parents can figure that out, why can't legislators in the state of Michigan?

A controversial new anti-bullying proposal that just passed the state's Republican-controlled senate manages to take a black and white issue and input shades of gray. The name "Matt’s Safe School Law" implies it's a law that declares bullying in schools a problem. But the content actually provides for the opposite. It's the anti-bullying law that protects the bullies

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Bullies will be protected by the law ... provided they can prove they have a "moral or religious reason" for being a jerk. As a proud supporter of public education, I'll tell you if that law came to my state, it might just be enough to push me to yank my kid out of the classroom.

We work hard to tell our kids that everyone is equal, that being different is OK. Raised Catholic but married to a Baptist, we don't practice an organized religion in our household. But we tell our daughter that other people do, and that's their right. She is supposed to treat Catholic kids like Muslim kids like Jewish kids like Presbyterian kids like ... you get the drift. Same goes for Asian kids and children of color, gay kids, gender variant kids, boys, girls, you name it.

And now a state assembly has decided that my agnostic daughter can be sweet as pie to every kid in her class, but if they want to tell her she's a filthy atheist who is going to burn in the fires of hell, that's just fine. And of course if a gay kid just keeps his nose clean and goes out of his way to pat other kids on the back, he's prime pickings for someone with an axe to grind about homosexuality ... as long as they use words like "hell" and "Bible" while they beat the snot out of him.

Doesn't give kids much incentive to be nice to one another, does it?

As Senator Gretchen Whitmer said in an impassioned speech that fell on deaf ears, the very student who the law is named for, Matt Epling, a Michigan student who committed suicide in 2002 after suffering extensive bullying at school, would not have been protected by anything in the law. As Whitmer, who voted against the proposal, told her colleagues, "You're explicitly outlining how to get away with bullying."

As long as we allow some kids dispensations and excuses for their bad behavior, how are we ever going to able to end this epidemic in our nation's schools?

 

Image via AlishaV/Flickr

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