Bilerico Report

The time has come for Michigan to pass a comprehensive anti-bullying law

Emily Dievendorf

Emily Dievendorf

Ten in ten years.

If Michigan were talking about attracting industry, legislators would acknowledge that accumulation as quite significant. The “ten” would indicate consistency. Michiganders would claim credit for the number and attribute the success to environmental factors or a quality and supportive structure.

Emily Dievendorf

If “ten” represented businesses lost, we would change our approach, and try to find and implement the best possible solution, yesterday.

But we aren’t talking about attracting large corporations to Michigan this time. We are talking about supporting and saving our kids — after losing at least ten kids to suicide (in which bullying had an influence). We aren’t talking about helping registered voters, or wealthy donors to campaigns — and maybe because of that Michigan legislators aren’t sure they care enough to provide a quality solution any time soon.

The Michigan legislature is talking about passing something, finally, after over a decade of child advocates and progressive legislators fighting for action on an anti-bullying law.

Conservative leaders will reference the rash of suicides we witnessed nationally as their impetus for moving the bill to action, but that is far as their leadership will go. They won’t support a comprehensive bill that enumerates the reasons that kids are often targeted or requires schools to report progress. They won’t push for a bill that actually works — one that models best practices and is supported by national research.

Michigan’s students should not have to wait any longer.

Washington state and Oregon have already gone back to revise laws that were poorly crafted when they were passed – we shouldn’t repeat their mistakes.

The time has come for a comprehensive policy that requires all schools to report incidents of bullying and harassment based on an individual’s perceived or actual immutable characteristics – sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, disability, etc.

We must send the message to students, faculty and staff that harassment, across the board, is unacceptable.

After national outrage hit the media earlier this month, Republicans had to back down from their “license to bully” based on religious beliefs. And, so, we’re back to where we began – the House just passed a weak bill that is expected to move easily through the Senate.

The bill is two pages long and doesn’t provide any guidance for local school districts. The Republican majority wants to get rid of this issue quickly, and they’re willing to pass bad policy in order to tout an accomplishment. It may act just after Thanksgiving break.

We must continue to push for comprehensive legislation at each step of the process and we’ll help voters demand what’s best for Michigan’s kids.

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