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Government Responses to Bullying Based on Sexuality Go Haywire

Bullying has been under increased scrutiny in recent years, and schools and lawmakers have tried to take on the issue with rules, guidance and even new laws to protect people who are being bullied. Judging by some recent developments both in the U.S. and in the U.K., it appears that these efforts may be missing the mark in the area of protecting gay and lesbian kids who are being bullied.

The London Evening Standard reports that In the U.K., a recent report on bullying in schools in Essex shows that "schoolchildren bullied over their sexuality are being advised by teachers to act 'less gay' or to wear their hair differently. The National Union of Teachers quickly condemned the "act less gay" advice as "inappropriate" and an Essex County Council spokesperson said the council "hope[d] all teachers are sensible in giving the right advice to pupils."

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., an an anti-bullying bill was passed by the Michigan state Senate after being tweaked by Senate Republicans to add a clause that affirmatively allows bullying based on "moral convictions." TPM Muckraker reports that SB 137, also called "Matt's Safe School Law" now includes language stating that the bill does not prohibit First Amendment rights, and "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." The bill, named after Matt Eppling, who committed suicide in 2002 after being bullied, will now go to the state House.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) called the bill a "blueprint for bullying" in a floor speech. Kevin Eppling, Matt Eppling's father, said the bill would have the twisted effect of putting kids in greater danger. "I am ashamed that this could be Michigan's bill on anti-bullying when in fact it is a 'bullying is OK in Michigan law,'" he said.

Posted by Bruce Carton on November 4, 2011 at 04:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

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