Why is Michigan one of only three states without anti-bullying legislation?
You might expect that a bill outlawing school bullying would breeze through Michigan’s House and Senate.
Lawmakers would be eager to stand over the governor’s shoulder for a bill signing ceremony. Parents and teachers would applaud the quick action of lawmakers aiming to stop the bullying and fighting that’s driven some students to suicide.
But the real fight is going on in Lansing, and parents say it’s political gridlock at its finest.
Since 1999, scores of bills have been introduced in Michigan’s legislature, aiming to outlaw bullying in schools.
Each one has died.
Today, Michigan is one of only three states without an anti-bullying law on the books.
“47 states have passed us…and we’re waiting, we’re still waiting,” said Kevin Epling whose son Matt took his own life after being bullied in 2002.
“We’re losing kids every year,” he said.
One bill that’s stalled, introduced by Westland Democratic Senator Glenn Anderson, would protect students from being bullied over “any…distinguishing characteristic,” and goes further, naming groups of students who are most targeted, like overweight, disabled and gay students.
Referencing gay students in any bullying legislation has outraged social conservatives and religious groups.
“To give students protection expressly based on their engaging in homosexual behavior gives public approval, gives the approval of the school system in our view to such behavior,” said Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, a conservative group that opposes same-sex marriage.
“We don’t think it is in the best interest of students,” he said.
On the other side of the aisle, Senator Glenn Anderson say the fight is all about intolerance.
“When you listen to the rhetoric,” he said, “it’s almost like they believe gay kids shouldn’t be protected.”
Tonight on Action News at 11, Investigator Ross Jones takes you inside the fight that’s lasted three governors, countless legislators, and at least ten school suicides in Michigan.
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‘Stop Bullying’ Digital Petition
This letter is to urge you to pass HB 4580. I want you to take a stand against bullying and protect our future by protecting the children of Michigan! The urgency in light of recent death of Samantha Kelly and the children who fear going to school daily, I strongly feel that this bill needs to pass immediately!
HB 4580 was introduced to the House of Representatives on March 13, 2009 and passed on May 13, 2010 and has been sitting in the State Senate since May 13, 2010.
I encourage you to use your voice that the people of Michigan have given you and speak for our children today and support HB 4580!
I genuinely appreciate the role you play in shaping our great state of Michigan. Thank you for your efforts to make peace a reality in our lifetime.
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