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LGBTs, allies, parents to lobby for safe schools

By | 2018-01-16T14:16:47-05:00 March 23rd, 2006|News|

By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

LANSING – On Tuesday, March 28, parents, students, teachers and LGBT advocates will descend on Lansing with one request of their state Representatives and Senators: “Make Michigan’s schools safe for all children.”
The pro-child activists will be lobbying for passage of House Bill 5616 and Senate Bill 92, collectively known as “Matt’s Safe School Law.” The proposed law was named after Matt Epling, a fourteen-year-old straight student who killed himself after a hazing incident in East Lansing, and was introduced by Democratic state Representative Glenn Anderson. (See “Safe School Law aims to protect all children” online at www.pridesource.com 17393)
The proposed law, which is supported by Governor Jennifer Granholm, would require every Michigan public school district to write all-inclusive anti-bullying policies that would include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Many of the existing anti-bullying policies don’t enumerate protections, particularly regarding characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Kirstin Leiby, field organizer for Triangle Foundation. “Without this enumeration, the policies carry no weight and bullying cases are left to the biases of specific teachers or administrators.”
“Just as with state, federal, or workplace policies on discrimination, if something is not explicitly stated as unacceptable, than it is allowed,” Leiby continued. “If a child is part of a marginalized group, then there is no guarantee that a vague anti-bullying policy will be enforced for her case.”
Safe Schools Advocacy Day will begin at 9 a.m. with a training at the Capitol. Participants will be sent to lobby legislators from 10:15 a.m. – 2 p.m. with a break for lunch. The day will end at 3 p.m. after an optional debriefing meeting.
Participants will need to contact their legislators in advance to set up an appointment during the day.
Safe Schools Advocacy Day is “more than a lobby day,” said Triangle Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky. “We’re encouraging folks all over the state to participate in some way. We’re hoping for the largest lobby day ever in Michigan history.”
“It’s a great opportunity for those who believe, as I do, that safe schools are something that all children should have,” said Rep. Anderson. “Every child deserves a safe school environment. It’s an opportunity for people to let their legislators know it’s time to take bullying seriously.”
Safe Schools Advocacy Day is being co-hosted by the Triangle Foundation and Michigan Equality and is being sponsored by over a dozen community organizations statewide, from PFLAG Downriver to the Michigan Safe Schools Coalition.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.