Bullying legislation receives mixed support

Chris Azzopardi
By | 2018-01-16T14:07:40-04:00 June 22nd, 2006|News|

LANSING – The Michigan State Board of Education called for stronger legal tools to prevent bullying in Michigan’s public schools on June 13, but some Republican representatives don’t believe a currently-proposed legislative tool is necessary.
“I don’t think we need to create special pieces of legislation when it’s already covered, when districts already have the ability to create the appropriate policy,” said Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland) of the Education Committee, of proposed legislation that would require all of Michigan’s school districts to create a uniform anti-bullying policy.
Although Kuipers wasn’t clear if the bill’s language targets specific minorities, “the groups that are advocating for it are special groups of people,” he said.
According to Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle Foundation, the bill enumerates categories such as sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sen. Kuipers allegedly told Kosofsky that as long as gay youth were covered under the bill, the bill would not move, Kosofsky said.
The Board of Education’s move comes months after Gov. Jennifer Granholm called for stronger bullying policies in her 2006 State of the State address.
The state’s top public education officials called for stronger measures to end bullying in schools, urging the legislature to pass legislation that would mandate that all public school districts in Michigan have an anti-bullying policy that models the state recommended policy.
“We are very excited that the State Board is once again raising visibility about the problem of bullying,” Kosofsky said in a press release. “Bullying is still pervasive in schools and can lead to a host of other problems, including truancy, depression, suicide, violence and other behavior problems, which interfere with the educational process.”
The legislation has 47 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. Rep. Brian Palmer (R-Romeo), who chairs the House Standing Committee on Education, has refused to schedule hearings on House Bill 5616, according to Triangle Foundation. Rep. Palmer didn’t return a phone call from BTL before press time.
“In the House of Representatives, the leadership sees this bill as mostly benefiting gay people,” Kosofsky said. “Therefore they’re going to punish all kids by not letting the bill move.”
The State Board of Education’s next meeting is scheduled for August 8.
Speak OUT
Contact Senator Wayne Kuipers, Representative Brian Palmer, and your own state Senator and Representative and tell them to support HB 5616, which would protect Michigan’s children from bullying in the public schools.
Senator Wayne Kuipers, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI, 48909-7536; call 517-373-6920 or email senwkuipers@senate.michigan.gov.
Representative Brian Palmer, S0885 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014,
Lansing, MI, 48909-7514; call 517-373-0843 or email repbrianpalmer@house.mi.gov.
For contact information for your state Representative call the Michigan State House Clerk’s office at 517-373-0135 or visit http://house.michigan.gov/find_a_rep.asp.
For contact information for your state Senator visit http://senate.michigan.gov or call the Secretary of the Senate at 517-373-2400.

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.