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Posted on Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

Bolger aide: House GOP plans anti-bullying bill that does not allow for excuses

By Julie Baker

State House leaders have been working on an anti-bullying bill that does not single out specific groups - and does not allow excuses for harassing other students, a spokesman told the Grand Rapids Press.

Thumbnail image for Jase_Bolger_headshot_2011.jpg

Jase Bolger

House Republicans had concerns about the bill approved by the state Senate last week “as soon as they heard the first news reports with details,” the Press reported. They are preparing an alternative bill that GOP leaders believe could be a compromise, Ari Adler, spokesman for Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, told the paper.

The Senate bill mandates that school districts create an anti-bullying policy, but it says that policy cannot punish "a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian,” according to the story.

Read the full report.


Martin Church

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

So you support the postion that speaking out against something based upon moral convictions should never happen. if the house bill passes it will become a stumbling block against those of us who do not support popular opninon on moral issues. For instance if a student speaks out and says they oppose same sex attratction dysfuntion they could then be suspended or force to attend defersity training classes. if a counselor offers someone access to repairative therapy as offered by Exodus international for a suspect sexual orientaton issue the person could be fired. if a teacher refuses to recommend abortion for a pregency they could be relieved of their job. You have created a new class of victim. and condemmed someone who is seeking help from that help. The anti-bullying law is for one purpose to force people who want to live a moral lifestyle from expersing their concern. we are back to Cain "Are we our Brothers keeper" And God's response is the blood calls out from the rocks. I guess God was the bully.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

Martin, I don't think people are saying students "speaking out against something based upon moral convictions should never happen." Such speech is not necessarily bullying and may be fine in an appropriate context. Bullying is hate speech directed at individuals that says, "You're going to hell," "You're an abomination," or "You're a freak." Are you really trying to defend that type of constant speech that has result in so many suicides? What about the assault on the gay student in Ohio - was that okay too? With respect to teachers and counselors I do believe they must maintain professional standards regarding speech and it would not normally be appropriate "if a counselor offers someone access to repairative therapy as offered by Exodus international for a suspect sexual orientation issue." Regarding abortion, I have no idea how you can suggest that "if a teacher refuses to recommend abortion for a pregency they could be relieved of their job." Where did that come from?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

I assume you are addressing me Martin: Yes indeedy: i am against kids who are pushy and aggressively and offensively in others kids' faces about their "moral beliefs"...since they are kids and don't know much to begin with ( not that the most loudly preachy adults do either, but most of them know to keep it on the internet and not in someone's actual face....and i've been fairly outspoken on these threads about my lack of sympathy toward adults who transgress these rules too!!). Of course if someone gets in THEIR face first its a different matter.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Sooo...if a kid is a " sincere believer" in Naziism, or some anti -gay fundamentalism with an aggressive agenda ( and a few come to mind!!) this would get a 'pass' in the proposed bill.???. Creepy!!!! and encouraging of the worst kinds of bigotry ( i.e those that have god on the side of the bully and hence are "above" feelings of guilt and the need to respect others).


Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

G.Orwell: yours is a ridiculously simplistic view of the 1st amendment, properly already trumped by notions of "hate speech" and sexual intimidation speech...and more generally by justice Holmes' correct dictum that freedom of speech ends at falsely crying fire in a crowded theater. i.e. there should be standards of both truth and consequence in what people say. However i would accept your notion of speech with no limits or standards if it were accompanied by greater lenience in the matter of assault on blatant aggressive provocateurs.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

We talking about schools, not the public square. Bullying, which is really intimidation, should not be tolerated in the schools.

G. Orwell

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

Sooo...if a kid is a " sincere believer" in Naziism, or some anti -gay fundamentalism with an aggressive agenda ( and a few come to mind!!) this would get a 'pass' in the proposed bill.???. Yes. That is called freedom of speech. Far more important than offending someone over their sexuality, religion, etc. Freedom of speech is what makes this country free. Without it, we'd have tyranny. Which this country is quickly heading toward.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

Bullying is real and it's easily distinguished from teasing. Bullying is essentially hate speech and intimidation. Many schools tolerate bullying because bullies normally use hate speech rather than fists (the recent Ohio video being an exception). We need to stop tolerating bullying.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

@godsbreath64. I am from Michigan and I volunteered in schools for years. Bullying does occur in Michigan. Nothing is being "ginned up." Bullying can and has led to suicides in Michigan. This is also not just about gay student. One of the worst cases of bullying I saw involved a girl in special ed who was bullied in the hallway on almost a daily basis. In the end the law is about giving teachers the protection they need to help put a stop to such behavior and protect children.


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 5:24 a.m.

From your own words you don't appear to be from Michigan, have any first hand experience with kids or schools, or ultimately any insight into your legislative addictions. Lansing is the problem, not the solution. Admit it: you are caught here ginning up, or politicizing our nation's precious young. That should be a sobering enough assessment. Good luck to you.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

@godsbreath64 Many schools do tolerate bullying that occurs in hallways, lunchrooms, cafeterias, locker rooms and, to a certain degree, even in classrooms in part because it is hard to call out a child's behavior when parents do not have a common norm. It seems that teachers would benefit from a law that helped state the expected behavior - bullying is wrong.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Fine, just protect students and teachers from the professional bullies in Lansing. Schools do not tolerate bullying. At least Michigan ones don't. I can't speak for your state, though. Need a little tonic to go along with all that gin?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

How many jobs does this create?

Basic Bob

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:56 a.m.

Yet another way that we will direct innocent children into the cycle of crime and punishment. The child's behavior is not desirable or acceptable, but the criminalization of the behavior by grown men is morally bankrupt. The child victims and their parents will also be misled into believing that "rights" bestowed on them by this policy are naturally obtained.

G. Orwell

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

Do we really need a bill for this? Could it stifle free speech and expression? Students will be so concerned about being politically correct, it could prevent them from fully expressing themselves and learning. I agree with Macabre. This bill should not favor any religion, sex, ethnicity, etc. I don't think that would be constitutional. We all have equal rights.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 5:04 a.m.

Sorry johanny', Lansing is not the answer. Anyone raised in Michigan can establish teachers and elementary administrators did a fantastic job along the way. Lansing can't say that. These are handled as policy decisions on campus' and the children are let to be just that. They live, they learn. Again, unlike Lansing. There is actually a long history of learning the lessons from legislative overreach. Imperious authority spurns bullies, rather than deters them. Google Columbine, Oklahoma City, or 911.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

I suspect this bill will run right into the restrictions in Federal Laws surrounding IEPs and special education. I suspect that this is a series of lawsuits waiting to happen. The only question is which side will the NCAAP and the ACLU be on in the lawsuits. I suspect that will depend on who are the parties involved in the bullying and who has the IEP.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

The Senate bill is a disgusting perversion of an attempt to address bullying. Calling it "Matt's Safe School Law" shows what the right wingers in the Michigan senate are all about. Matt's father says specifically that he does not want his sons name attached to it in that form. Yet, they do it anyway. There should be a STATEWIDE mandate on protocols to deal with bullying that every district must follow. The Senate version just says the local district must have a policy. If they choose a policy that says, they give the person a good talking to, it is within the law. That is until the bully claims he is morally opposed to immigration, than he can call the Hispanic student anything he wants. He is morally opposed to the Catholic religion and can make fun of them for their views. Maybe he is morally opposed to special needs kids getting extra help due to learning differences and can start calling them retards and get away with it. The last few years have seen bullied kids giving up and killing themselves. I think maybe the next step will be the bullied kid deciding enough is enough and killing some bullies. I'm not saying it's right, but I will understand.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

I'm glad to hear this. The Senate version is absurd and we very much need strong anti-bullying legislation that protects every child equally. No special protected groups and no special protected perpetrators.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

Who, if anyone, is lobbying the Michigan Legislature to advocate the interests of bullies? Perhaps the ACLU who wants to ensure that First Amendment rights are not infringed.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

ROAD, do you have any examples of the ACLU advocating for bullies?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:05 a.m.

Roadman, your comment is disgraceful that 1st Amendment issues are at hand in bullying. Most know otherwise at a very young age. It takes a lot to muddy that water. If you are seriously wanting legitimate redress of bullying there is enough to address on the internet.

Linda Peck

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

I wonder if this bill would swing so far toward intolerance that there will be no compassionate understanding for a child's immature behavior? Take for example a very young child who makes a statement that is not fully understood by him or her--will the response be a legalistic one that would punish this innocent child?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

Making a statement does not usually qualify as bullying. If prohibition of bullying amounts to "intolerance," so do many of our laws.