It started with a suicide and ended with one of the most ill-conceived, bigoted, and frankly asinine pieces of legislation ever written.
The bill is known as “Matt’s Safe School Law”, and it was inspired by the story of Matt Epling, who killed himself in 2002 after an anti-gay bullying incident. It was supposed to make bullying illegal, and protect kids — particularly gay kids — from the torturous effects of bullying by their peers.
And that’s exactly what the law would have done…at least, until the overly religious nitwits in the Michigan Senate got their bigoted little paws on the bill.
In their infinite desire to protect the rights of their hate-filled children to spew anti-gay nonsense, bully other children, and drive gay kids to suicide (or at least a childhood of self-loathing), Republicans added language to the bill that allows religious people to continue bullying.
The bill now says that the anti-bullying requirements don’t “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.”
In other words, if you can drum up some fictional work of “God” that says that gays are evil and deserve to die for being gay, you are now free to use it to harass your classmates with it. See a kid that seems kind of gay? The state just authorised you to make his life hell until you get him to snap and kill himself. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Morons.
State Senator Gretchen Whitmer (a Democrat, in case you couldn’t tell from her rationality and sanity) had this to say about the stupid law passed by stupid people.
“You may be able to pat yourselves on the back today and say that you did something, but in actuality you are explicitly outlining how to get away with bullying,” Whitmer said. “As passed today, bullying kids is OK if a student, parent, teacher or school employee can come up with a moral or religious reason for doing it.”
Every time I think that maybe, just maybe, social conservatives are human beings with a heart and a conscience, they go and pull some jackass stunt like this.
Bullying is not some trivial issue. Every year, kids kill themselves after undergoing day after day of bullying. It is particularly true of gay and bisexual kids, who not only have to deal with the standard BS of bullying, but face additional bullying because of their sexuality, real or perceived.
In one month (September 2010), 10 gay kids in America killed themselves after being bullied about their sexuality. 10. These kids could have been your son, your cousin, your nephew. They died because we, as adults, did not do enough to stop the constant berating of their identity and their existence.
We all watched as kids, encouraged by their parents’ beliefs and crystallized by the message of hate they find in their churches and their Bibles, bullied and harassed and marginalized and ultimately murdered their classmates.
And now they’ll have their bigotry sanctioned by the state. Michigan should be ashamed.
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