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Louisiana Upholds the Right to Bully Gays in School

Louisiana Upholds the Right to Bully Gays in School

 

Louisiana religious conservatives have once again succeeded in having the Legislature shelve a gay-inclusive bullying bill, saying that it risked criminalizing Christian kids who have a right to object to homosexuality.

The bill’s author, rather than see her legislation gutted of its intent, chose to pull the bill.

Reports The Advocate:

State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the proposal, said an amendment approved by the House Education Committee all but nullified the aim of her legislation.

“Rather than you degrade a bill that was meant for the safety of children, which is what you have just done, I am pulling the bill,” Smith told the committee, which ended a two-hour hearing that included tearful testimony from the parents and friends of deceased children.

[...]

The decisive amendment included the removal of parts of the bill that spelled out specific prohibitions against bullying for reasons of sexual orientation, disabilities, race and other issues.
It won approval 10-5 and was sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City.

This has now become an annual tradition for Louisiana lawmakers who have successively opposed creating enumerated classes despite the fact that evidence shows that when you specifically highlight vulnerable groups it becomes much easier to track instances of bullying and take action to combat bullying behavior.

Conservative lawmakers and groups resisted HB407 and counterpart measure SB 619, collectively known as the Bullying Prevention Act of 2012, specifically over its sexual orientation-inclusive wording, that the legislation didn’t name other groups (though it did offer a standard list of cognizable groups), and that Louisiana already has bullying legislation, saying that the changes weren’t needed and risked impeding free speech of Christian students and staff.

Reports Nola:

Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills, who said he’s an ordained minister, told lawmakers, that the bill “introduces sexual politics” into the classroom and would discriminate against religious expression. “You could make a criminal bully out of a child who holds an orthodox view of Christianity.”

Jindal aide Russell Armstrong said the governor believes an enumerated list creates winners and losers. Jindal later sidestepped a question about Smith’s bill, saying he “supports a bill … to protect children.” He didn’t say what bill, though some lawmakers have filed other measures that have yet to be heard. Jindal said local school boards should develop anti-bullying policies.

Jennifer Curry, a counseling professor at LSU, told lawmakers that enumerating specific examples is an important component to training school officials and educating students. She offered an example of middle school boys pulling off the headdresses of Muslim girls. Neither the boys nor their teachers knew that the act was a religious offense, Curry said.

This is despite the fact that several people gave testimony regarding a need to create stricter legislation, including Tiffany Phelps who recounted her conversations with 17-year-old Tesa Middlebrook who was being bullied at Pointe Coupee Parish Central High School. Despite reporting the conversations she had with Middlebrook, Phelps alleges nothing was ever done because the bullying protocol was too lax.

Middlebrook was then found hanging from the bleachers of the school football stadium in March having taken her own life.

Her case, tragically, is not unique in the state, or across the rest of the country.

 

Related Reading:

Bullied Gay Iowa Teen Committed Suicide After Alleged Death Threats

‘Don’t Say Gay’ One Step Closer in Tennessee

Best Anti-Bullying Video Ever?

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to KOMU news.

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156 comments

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6:06AM PDT on Aug 26, 2012

Views and opinions are not bullying until you bash them into someones skull. Literally. Coward xtians that rather see gay teens commit suicide than forbid someone to use their prejudicial faith against another human being. Oh, what I loathe religion!

7:02PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

Why do the homophobes have to bully anybody? Just leve people alone. If you don't like gays or lesbins, stop hanging arond them.

10:55AM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge - do not give up!

4:01PM PDT on May 5, 2012

How often does it have to be shown imperially that Abstinence Only does not reduce sexual activity and increases pregnancy. The only way to keep children safe is to educate. Failure to do this, or worse, teach lies, is criminal.

1:32PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Every single day the Religious Fanatics and the loons from the right prove they have NO right to sit in power. These people are the most hateful racist bigots in the world. For a group that claims to preach LOVE, all I hear is HATE.

If you wonder why our children are so screwed up, look NO future, here is your answer. We want a smaller, less intrusive government has to be one the BIGGEST lie EVER told. Remember this Election Day because your children’s safety is at stake.

11:05AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

I made a video about why Homosexuals should have equal rights. It’s at my YouTube channel Zarrakan, and here’s the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdK5ETOJusw

Watch it, share it, and join the fight against the evil Homophobes.

10:52PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

We have SO fare to go and so called christians are not helping.

2:59PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

They do have the right to object to homosexuality, but there is a difference between objecting and bullying, and it is a fine line that the younger generations are not learning. If they have the right to "bully" homosexuals as a form of objecting then I have the right to "bully" Christians as a form of objecting, but I don't. Why? Because it is called being considerate of other peoples way of life. But religion is trying to inject itself into the daily lives of EVERYONE, trying to brain wash them and make them think that being different is bad and sinful. Next it will be "bully" blacks or asians or mexicans as a form of objecting their skin color, or culture, it will not stop with homosexuals, but it always starts with the group that has the least protection

"Everyone needs to keep their nose out of other peoples business and mind their own." -My Grandma

8:08AM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

feel free to object to it. that gives no right to persecute. some people object to/are offended by black people. do they have the right to bully too then?

muslims are so offended by gays they believe gays should be executed (and of course cause uncle mo said to kill gays). are you going to honor THEIR right to practice that aspect of their religion?

7:59AM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

“You could make a criminal bully out of a child who holds an orthodox view of Christianity.”

yes. that should be a criminal offense. your religion doesn't tell you to drive someone to the point of self-harm or suicide simply because they don't align themselves with your religion.

wake up, Louisiana... it's the 21st century, and your state is full of all kinds of people, and all kinds of children. let's ensure they grow up to be all kinds of adults, too.

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