Who could possibly be anti-anti-bullying? That’s right. The homophobic Christian agenda. The Guardian reports:
Thirteen million children are bullied every year. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately “40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullying at some point during their school careers.” Suicides like Jacob’s take place somewhere in America every single month. According to a Yale University study, children who are bullied are two to nine times more likely to end their own lives. Kids are bullied for all sorts of reasons: for being fat, shy, poor, rich and for no reason at all, although everyone familiar with the phenomenon knows that sexual orientation is a common excuse.
Solutions to the problem of bullying aren’t easy. They have to do more with changing the culture than changing the legal codes. Families bear the chief responsibility for teaching their children to respect others.Schools can help, though, by educating students and teachers about the problem, setting up clear and effective policies for dealing with cases and establishing accountability, and fostering a safe and welcoming environment for all students. State legislators in New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois, among other places, have taken important steps in this direction with useful anti-bullying bills.
In Michigan last year, the “anti-anti-bullying” lobby went on the offensive with some legislation of their own. In a bill dealing with the bullying issue, they inserted a provision that would have exempted bullies who acted out of “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction”. With an irony that seems more than usually cruel, the bill was named for a Michigan teen who had committed suicide after years of bullying.
A national outpouring of disgust at the Michigan legislature’s attempt to legitimize faith-based bullying ultimately resulted in the removal of the provision from the bill. But now the lawmakers of a Tennessee plan to make good on the loss. In what must count as an extraordinarily perverse way to mark the suicide of Jacob Rogers, they have introduced a bill that follows the trail blazed by the Michigan lawmakers, with some inconsequential changes in language, to open up a loophole for verbal bullying that is motivated by religious prejudices. Given that theTennessee legislature approved Bill 368, which is intended to bring “creationism” into the state’s biology classrooms, on 26 March, the prospects for this anti-anti-bullying bill have to be considered good.
Many people will undoubtedly conclude that these efforts by the anti-anti-bully lobby are lacking in Christian charity or common sense. But their proponents do have a point that we should carefully consider. To be sure, the notion that the anti-bullying initiatives are driven by “the homosexual agenda” – a phrase that conjures the vision of gay hordes aiming to seduce children into lives of abomination – is preposterous. But the sense that anti-bullying initiatives involve teaching children “acceptance” of LGBT peers, to use the word of the Concerned Women of America, is not. If you want the school to tell students to stop harassing kids like Jacob Rogers because they are gay, you have to let them know, at some point, that the school thinks it’s OK to be gay.
As Americans, we all like to believe that we can establish laws and policies that are neutral with respect to religious belief. But the truth is, we can’t, and we don’t. Sometimes, we have to make a choice. We have already made such choices – obviously, the right ones – with respect to race or ethnicity. No state or school would or should entertain for a moment the notion that it is acceptable for students to tell those of another race or ethnicity that they are inferior and degenerate because their religion teaches them – as some religions in America did, until quite recently – that certain races are less worthy before God than others. Maybe, it’s time to come clean about sexual preference.
Read more: The Guardian