Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
A coalition of LGBT and advocacy groups supporting Michigan anti-bullying bill Matt’s Safe Shools continues to split apart amid a decision by some of the coalition’s members to change course and begin supporting a version of the bill that does not specify lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students as being protected by the bill.
The Safe Schools Coalition – which includes several LGBT groups, the Michigan Association of School Administrators and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan – has been pushing the Legislature to pass anti-bullying legislation. From 2001 until early December 2008, supporters stressed that the bill had to enumerate, or specify, the protected classes covered by legislation. Supporters of enumeration say that without it, the proposed legislation lacks teeth.
But two weeks ago, Jean Doss, a lobbyist representing Detroit-based Triangle Foundation – which is part of the coalition – told Between the Lines that a compromise bill that arose in the lame duck session of the Senate would protect all youth without enumeration. “These are very tough decisions. They’re decisions that are very hard for people outside the legislative process to understand because they felt that the bill was further weakened in its ability to protect all children,” Doss said of the bill that passed the House last session. “This is not a GLBT bill. This is a bill to protect all children. We had to make a decision that after eight years of advocacy on this and strong work that this was still better than nothing.”
However, others believe that a law without enumeration is better than no law at all.
Longtime political activist and recently elected chair of the LGBT and Allied Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party Phil Volk stated on Feb. 23 that the caucus will not support any anti-bullying legislation that does not include enumeration.
Julie Nemecek, co-director of Michigan Equality, sent an e-mail to supporters Wednesday saying her organization would not back the compromise bill either. “Michigan Equality will only support legislation that includes enumeration of protections which includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” she wrote. “While we believe protections based on religion, ethnicity, height, weight, income-level and many other things are important, we believe the exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression from legislation does little to stop the systemic verbal, social and physical abuse directed at LGBT people; including many children and teenagers.”
In addition, Log Cabin Republicans of Michigan, a gay Republican group, said it supports enumerated legislation. “The unenumerated bill is a huge mistake,” said Log Cabin President Noel Siksai. “Passing it to get something through that doesn’t have the necessary protections is only going to lead to abuse. If school boards don’t have an enumerated bill to comply with, there’s no incentive for them to adopt the enumerated policy.”
Safe Schools Lobby Day
To show support for passage of Matt’s Safe Schools Law
8 a.m.-3 p.m. March 25
Capitol Building, Lansing
Editor’s Note: Todd A. Heywood works as a Capitol reporter for Between The Lines newspaper and worked briefly for Michigan Equality last year.
Additional reporting by Jessica Carreras.