The "Minnesota Family Council" is out there right now fighting to keep the MN legislature from passing anti-bullying bill. What is most astounding about it is how up front they are about all of it. (Emphasis in original. I'm not kidding).
Call your state senator and representative and urge them to oppose the "Anti-bullying" bill (S.F. No. 783/HF 826) which will impose a $26 million mandate on all schools and require “politically correct” diversity training in all public and private schools in the state.*
CLICK HERE to identify and contact your legislator.
- Requires schools to monitor student communications, not just in the school and school events, but whenever students might be communicating with other students.
- Applies to private, religious schools. Massive and unprecedented attack on the rights of religious schools to direct the operation and content of the programs.
- Imposes a costly, unfunded mandate on all public and private schools. (In the Senate bill.) Fiscal notes the annual cost for schools will be $26 million.
- The definition of the bill is likely unconstitutional because of its overbroad reach. In the Senate bill, anything which has a “detrimental effect on the physical, social or emotional health of a student” constitutes bullying under the bill. This could include comments, intended or not, which makes a student feel bad. Or which “creates or exacerbates a real or perceived imbalance of power between students”. What does that mean?
- Gives special attention and protections to at least 19 groups in society, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression” (boys and girls who want to dress as the opposite sex). So if male student comes to school dressed in female clothing and is teased. That would constitute bullying under this bill.
- Bureaucratic nightmare. Forces schools to document, retain the records of thousands of bullying complaints, incidents, real or perceived and forward information to the state.
- Would be used as a tool to reshape the attitudes and values of school-age children regarding family structure and sexuality
In short, this bill will create an administrative nightmare for school officials, and impose burdensome and confusing legal responsibilities on teachers, school staff, and volunteers. It represents a gross intrusion on parental autonomy and religious freedom in both public and private schools.
- Goes far beyond bullying to require schools to “prevent and reduce discrimination”. This could include, alternative views on sexuality and family structure issues.
Oh you're finished? Well allow me to retort. Let's go item by item.
1. "Requires schools to monitor student communications?" That just means you aren't allowed to look the other way and pretend bullying isn't happening, as many administrators have demonstrated a desire to do in the past and present.
2. "Applies to private, religious schools." When it comes to the government telling religious people how to practice their faith, I totally agree. But one of the exceptions is the safety of children. Mandating that bullying be monitored and actively discouraged is as much a valid state concern as building inspections.
3. "Imposes a costly, unfunded mandate on all public and private schools." Minnesota currently has a budget surplus, but it has come at the expense of shuffling around our obligations to our high schools. Still, Minnesotans on both sides of the aisle have been historically very strong on giving education funding a priority.
4. As for the constitutionality, I see no issues with this bill. In fact, it seems a quite logical extension of the 14th amendment, especially the equal protection clause. Also, why is preventing "detrimental effect on the physical, social or emotional health of a student" bad or even remotely vague?
5. "Gives special attention and protections to at least 19 groups in society, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression” (boys and girls who want to dress as the opposite sex). So if male student comes to school dressed in female clothing and is teased. That would constitute bullying under this bill."
Yes, and it damn well should be. The harmful speech and quite often violence directed towards trans individuals especially deserves our attention. But apparently it should be perfectly acceptable to ridicule someone for their gender according to MFC.
6. "Bureaucratic nightmare." I'm getting sick and tired of the "we can't regulate anything because it involves paperwork" argument. Yes, government regulation involves bureaucracy. Get over it! So do the FAA, the FDA, the NIH, the NSF and all the other three letter organizations that keep us safer every day. I'm willing to live with that, and in fact I'm probably living because of it.
7. "Would be used as a tool to reshape the attitudes and values of school-age children regarding family structure and sexuality." As opposed to programs that do nothing of the kind like abstinence only education?
8. "Goes far beyond bullying to require schools to 'prevent and reduce discrimination'. This could include, alternative views on sexuality and family structure issues." Once again, I have to marvel at the blatant disdain for opposing discrimination. "OH LORDY NO! They want us to prevent and reduce discrimination! What has this cruel world come to that we are no longer allowed to pray upon the homos in peace?!" I haven't seen someone so openly oppose progress since the 2012 Texas GOP Platform.
And it's not like they don't realize how bad that sounds. Looking further into the MFC website I found an entire page dedicated to explaining why they oppose the legislation: (emphasis mine this time)
Who -- in the sensitive, civilized Minnesota of 2013 -- could possibly be in favor of bullying? If you were short or fat in sixth grade, you may have cringed from bullies yourself. If your kids have endured bullying, you've suffered through it with them. No child should have to put up with bullying. So how could a decent person oppose a campaign at our State Capitol to prevent it?
But what if the antibullying campaign now unfolding there has little to do with protecting the traditional targets of bullies: kids who are pudgy, shy or "vertically challenged"? What if it's driven instead by a political/cultural agenda that's not so much about stopping bad behavior as it is about using the machinery of state education to compel children to adopt politically correct attitudes on "the nature of human sexuality," "gender identity" and alternative family structures?So what if it is? That's still no reason to be in favor of bullying. Even if the entire bill was written by Dan Savage, Rachael Maddow, Ellen DeGeneres and other authors of the Gay Agenda, is that any reason to allow or even encourage discrimination? Imagine a bill 50 years ago entitled the "Anti-bullying of Black Teens" bill. Would it be a sound argument for the opposition to say "it's driven by a political/cultural agenda using the machinery of state education to compel children to adopt politically correct attitudes on "the equality of the races," "desegregation," and other alternative societal structures?"
While poking fun and making light of this message is all too easy, we must remember that bullying does great harm. My generation may be much more accepting of LGBTQ people, the old prejudices still seep through. Bullying is one of the leading causes of suicide among teens. When I was in school, nearly every day "gay" or "queer" was spat at me as though it were an insult. I was rarely beaten, but I've had many a locker slammed on my head as bullies walked by laughing.
But here's the thing: I'm not gay. While the intimidation and insults still hurt me emotionally, I could very easily remind myself that they were wrong, that I wasn't actually some sort of inhuman other, that I wasn't "one of those people." And at the time, even I considered gays to be lesser, disgusting, and sinful; after all, that is what I was taught. It pains me to admit it, especially since two of my best friends from that time later came out themselves. I shudder to think what harm I could have inadvertently done had I known then.
So when someone tells me to my face that even discouraging this sort of bullying is a bad idea, or worse an abridgment of their liberties, there are few words that can express my contempt.
The few that come to mind?
And the horse you rode in on.