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One of nine

By | 2010-04-08T09:00:00-04:00 April 8th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Out of the 50 states in our nation, there are nine that currently have no legislation in place to protect school-aged children from being bullied. This is, of course, excluding Massachusetts, which is in the process of ratifying a bill of that nature right now.
One of those nine states is Michigan.
This isn’t a “controversial” issue we’re talking about, like same-sex marriage or – lord forbid – allowing transgender people to use public restrooms without being arrested. This is protecting children of all types from being bullied so that they are not subject to physical and sexual abuse, ridicule and bullying-induced suicide.
This is legislation that will save innocent lives. And yet our state government repeatedly blocks it. Why?
You guessed it – because in their obvious insanity (note the sarcasm, BTL readers), some legislators and activists want to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender kids, too.
Imagine that: Not only do some believe that children should be protected from harassment due to their weight or disability or gender or race, but also their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
If a girl wants to wear a tuxedo to prom or walk down the hall holding hands with her girlfriend, she should be free to do that without fear of being laughed at or shunned. If a boy wants to wear eyeliner, or sing in the school musical, or sit in the bleachers of a football game with a male date, he shouldn’t get beat up or hazed.
This isn’t just about LGBT kids – although not surprisingly, that’s what congressmen and women claim is holding the legislation up. It’s about allowing youth to be exactly who they are all the time without fear. It’s about giving parents the satisfaction of knowing that their child is safe in school, and happy when they come home.
So how many more suicides will it take, Michigan? How many more kids like Steven Harmon of Portage, who recently had to be hospitalized after an afternoon of bullying that eventually led to physical violence?
In Massachusetts, it took the nationally covered case of Phoebe Prince, who recently killed herself after being bullied and possibly raped by her classmates. After her story came out, the state’s House scrambled to pass bullying legislation. And they did it unanimously.
In March, 12-year-old Kimberly Linczeski of Ontonagon, Mich. committed suicide after being bullied at her middle school – attacks which also eventually led to violence.

Why are Michigan legislators not scrambling? Why haven’t we heard about a unanimous passage of legislation in our state? Do our legislators really care so deeply about politics that it overpowers the issue of saving human lives – especially kids?
That we know of, Kimberly Linczeski wasn’t a lesbian, nor was her bullying due to rejecting gender norms. But anyone who cares about saving any child’s life needs to band together to push for this legislation. Just as parents of LGBT kids shouldn’t write off youth like Kimberly, we need to reach out to all supporters to ask our representatives and senators these tough questions:
“When will it be enough? When a representative’s child commits suicide?”
“How many kids should we wait to lose until we act?”
And, as the number of states left in the dark gets smaller and smaller (last year we were one of 11 left): “Why are we one of nine?”

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.