House Speaker Craig DeRoche
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
If only that were true.
Yeah, I know, a fine sentiment coming from someone who writes a column called Creep of the Week. Still. I’m not a bully. Oh, I’ve been called one (special shout-out to the guy who said I “spit venom like a viper.” Makes me blush every time). But there’s a difference between me and a schoolyard tyrant.
The folks who end up in this column work pretty hard to be here, but a skinny eighth grade kid who writes poetry instead of playing football isn’t asking – and certainly doesn’t deserve – to get slammed into lockers and called “faggot” by some meathead.
Bullying isn’t anything new, but it’s a systemic problem. Anyone who has ever gone to school has either been bullied, seen someone be bullied or bullied someone themselves. Kids who are bullied are being denied their right to an education. It’s awfully hard to learn algebra if you’re hiding in a bathroom stall to avoid being harassed.
Granted there’s no silver bullet to stop it – kids are often cruel, always have been, always will be. But that’s no excuse. Steps can be taken in the areas of prevention, awareness and education.
What does this have to do with House Speaker Craig DeRoche (R-Novi), you ask? DeRoche is holding up movement on House Bill 5616, which seeks to protect students from bullying. According to Michigan Equality, there is enough support in the Michigan House to pass the bill.
The bill has received very public support from Gov. Jennifer Granholm (she plugged it in her State of the State address), which may have soured legislative Republicans to the idea. After all, the GOP-dominated House and Senate are loath to support anything Granholm supports.
However, according to Triangle Foundation, “Speaker DeRoche is blocking the bill from seeing the light of day, we fear, because it would also grant greater protections to GLBT youth and other minorities.” Never mind that LGBT youth are at a greater risk of being bullied.
Now why on earth would DeRoche do that? Well, the Republicans are currently playing hot and heavy to their social conservative base. It’s not that these folks believe LGBT youth don’t deserve to be protected – these folks believe that LGBT youth don’t exist. To pass the bullying bill would be to acknowledge that there is such a thing as a gay kid, just as passing a bill protecting, say – elves, acknowledges the existence of elves. The only difference is that most rational people do not believe in elves, but they do believe in gay kids.
Which means the people currently running Michigan’s government might as well believe in elves. Perhaps they also believe that it’s better to let gay kids get beat up in the locker room in the hopes that it’ll knock the gay out of them.
Call or email DeRoche at 517-373-0827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.