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 [...]
On Thursday, May 13, the Michigan House of Representatives passed the non-enumerated version of “Matt’s Safe School Law,” and the bill now awaits a vote in the state Senate.
House Bill 4580, which passed 76-29, ensures that schools will “adopt and implement a policy prohibiting bullying or harassment.”
The version that passed is one of two anti-bullying bills that were drafted last year, with the enumerated version – HB 5093 – listing the specific groups that were experiencing bullying and needed attention, including sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill passed on May 13 does not include that list, but rather assumes that bullying should be stopped altogether.
Anti-bullying legislation in Michigan has been the cause of debate for years, and caused a rift in 2009 in the LGBT community over the two different versions. Before their merger in January, the Triangle Foundation and Michigan Equality differed in their support for the bills; Triangle supported passage of either version, while Michigan Equality voiced support only for the enumerated version.
The newly named Equality Michigan has also been vocal about anti-bullying legislation, hoping that it would be passed no matter the version, but noting that their absolute goal is an enumerated policy. “Equality Michigan is thankful that the House saw this as an important issue for Michigan children,” said Executive Director of Equality Michigan Alicia Skillman. “We will continue working with the Senate and highlight the harmful effects of bullying.”
Similar bills have been introduced in the past and were approved by the House, but never in the Senate.
After a slew of lawsuits and media coverage of bullying cases and bullycides earlier this year, the issue has found renewed vigor, forcing passage in Massachusetts and a revision in bullying criteria in Illinois. Most recently, Washington state passed an anti-bullying law with protections for LGBT students early this month, while Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed a bullying bill into law on May 12.
Michigan remains one of only seven states in the nation without comprehensive anti-bullying legislation, joined by North and South Dakota, Hawaii, Montana, New York and Missouri, which has a cyberbullying law but no anti-bullying law.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has recently pushed for the issue again, telling the Michigan Senate to make passing the legislation a “top priority.”