Reacting to voter outrage and intense negative publicity, the Michigan legislature is backing away from a bill passed by the Senate Nov. 2 which allows bullying if it represents “a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil or a pupil’s parent or guardian.”
The Michigan House passed a version of the bill Nov. 10 that does not include the “moral exception.” In the Senate, Rick Jones (R-Dist. 24), offered an amendment that would carve-out the “moral exception” language. He later stated he would withdraw his amendment and simply support the House version.
“We are grateful that this legislation moves forward without the license to bully based on an outrageous religious exception, but that said, it won’t be effective,” Michael Gregor, communications director for Equality Michigan, told the Washington Post.
LGBT activists had wanted the legislature to pass an enumerated anti-bullying bill that listed the groups most subject to harassment at school, including LGBT students. Republicans in both houses rejected that version of the bill, and instead went with bills that contain general language and no recourse for victims or penalties for bullies.
Michigan is one of only three states that do not have an anti-bullying law.