The so-called anti-bullying bill that passed the Michigan Senate on Nov. 2 is a disgrace. SB 137, or Matt’s Safe School Law, now is designed to actually legalize bullying, the exact opposite of the intention of the bill’s authors. Michigan Republicans added a clause to the bill at the last minute which exempts school bullying based on one’s religious or moral convictions. I don’t know of a single religion or moral code that condones inflicting pain and suffering on anyone, let alone a child. Michigan children should be able to go to school in a safe environment where they don’t have to worry about being harassed because a classmate thinks they might be gay.
The Republicans that supported this bill should be ashamed of themselves. They claim that this clause protects first amendment freedoms, when in reality it only protects bigoted bullies who should be punished. As if protecting bullies weren’t enough, the Republican clause also protects school employees who decline to intervene based on their religious or moral convictions. In effect, teachers and principals are excused from their duty to protect their students if they witness bullying based on something that goes against their religious beliefs. I fail to see how this would in any way foster a safe learning environment.