November 30, 2011 | by Phil Reese
Despite outcry, Michigan passes weak bullying bill

Though a Senate sponsor agreed to language changes to a bullying bill that provided an exemption for those expressing “sincerely held” religious beliefs, Matt’s Safe Schools law passed the Michigan House of Representatives this week, and now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature, without reporting mandates or LGBT protections.

After several bullied teens in Michigan launched a Change.org petition last month to convince the legislature to rethink the weak bullying bill, Senate sponsor Rick Jones agreed to remove the controversial ‘license to bully’ language.  However, the lawmakers refused to add language to the bill explicitly barring harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other criteria. The lawmakers also declined to add a mandate reporting on progress at curbing bullying to the bill, both things safe-schools advocates say are necessary for protecting students.

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“As students who have been bullied in the past, we know what we need to be protected,” 16-year-old Ann Arbor Greenhills High School junior, Katy Butler said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the legislature has chosen to ignore our voices in the debate over a law that directly impacts our lives every day.”

“While we’re disappointed that the legislature decided to do what was easy instead of doing what was right, Carson [Borbely] and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Butler. “All along, this campaign has been about providing a voice for students who suffer every day at school, but haven’t had the opportunity to speak out. Our petition helped stop a dangerous bill from becoming law. Next time, we’ll help pass a bill that actually protects students.”

The governor is expected to sign the legislation.

 

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