State Senate Democrats are keeping pressure on Republican lawmakers at the other end of the Capitol to restore some cuts to an anti-bullying bill, telling them “the people of Michigan would be watching closely.”
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said Monday that the state House of Representatives is expected to this week take up the Senate’s bill.
A statement from House Speaker Jase Bolger’s Twitter account indicated he didn’t agree with the Sentate’s bullying bill, mandates that school districts create an anti-bullying policy, but it says that policy cannot punish “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.”
“Bullying is wrong and the reason for bullying should not make it worse nor excused,” wrote Bolger, R-Marshall, on his account on Saturday.
Whitmer acknowledged Bolger’s statement about the bill, which she calls “license to bully,” but said she wants him “to do the right thing” by making a House bill more comprehensive.
“The Senate Republicans chose to play politics with this critically important issue that resulted in a bill that would actually leave Michigan’s students less protected than they already are,” Whitmer wrote in a release. “I’m calling on Speaker Bolger to not only fix their mistake, but bring Michigan up to date with what other states are already doing in passing comprehensive anti-bullying legislation that protects all of our students from bullying.”
Whitmer said the Senate vote has attracted nationwide attention. A video of her speaking out against the bill logged more than 350,000 hits worldwide and the story was posted on several national news sites, she said.
Senate Majority Leader Randy. Richardville “saw what happened when you try to pull one over on Michigan’s students that have been calling for real anti-bullying legislation. I certainly hope Speaker Bolger doesn’t make the same mistake because people from around the world will be watching.”
The Democrats have found some unlikely allies, with StudentsFirst.org, a school reform organization, also speaking out against the vote.
“StudentsFirst believes that a safe learning environment is fundamental to ensuring every child – whether that child is gay or straight – receives the high-quality education he or she is entitled to,” wrote Hari Sevugan, the organization’s vice president for communications. “That is why we support anti-bullying efforts that would accomplish that goal. Unfortunately, as it’s currently written, Matt’s Safe School Law does not provide meaningful protections against bullying, and thus we cannot support it. In fact, not only does the bill fail to protect students who are bullied, it would actually provide legal protections to those doing the bullying. That is simply unacceptable”.
Sevugan said the group is working “with friends and allies on both sides of the aisle to address changes made in the amendment process to make the law accomplish what it set out to do – provide a safe learning environment for every child.”
While reading through blogs and other social media this weekend it was obvious that people across the country and not just in Michigan were upset by this new bill. I do not believe there should ever be an excuse for bullying and I’m interested to see how this gets resolved – Holly
If you have a legal question contact Daniel Ambrose at 248-624-5500