In response to our statement below, AFA-Michigan received a call Thursday evening from Brenda High, founder of BullyPolice.org, the national organization which lists Michigan anti-bullying activist Kevin Epling as (along with Brenda) one if its two national co-directors. http://www.bullypolice.org/
Brenda told us that we may report that as founder of BullyPolice.org, she agrees with AFA-Michigan’s position that the language in House Bill 4580 which defines bullying as being “motivated by animus or by a (student’s) actual or perceived characteristic(s)” should be removed from the legislation, since it attempts to define victims rather than simply prohibiting all bullying against all students for all reasons, regardless of the motivation in any given instance. HB 4580 passed the Michigan House last week but is unlikely to be supported as written by the state Senate.
Gary Glenn, President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 20, 2010
Gary Glenn, Midland, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, issued the following statement in response to a Boston newspaper’s report Thursday on anti-bullying legislation, including the revelation that a major national anti-bullying organization — which lists anti-bullying activist Kevin Epling as one of two co-directors — agrees with AFA-Michigan’s longstanding opposition to wording in Michigan anti-bullying bills that attempts to “define victims” based on “characteristics.” (See Bay Windows article: http://www.baywindows.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=glbt&sc2=news&sc3=&id=105946)
For years, Kevin Epling has endorsed homosexual activists’ Trojan Horse legislative strategy regarding state anti-bullying legislation, despite being an officer of a national anti-bullying organization that we now learn agrees with AFA-Michigan, specifically urging parents not to support legislation that attempts to define victims based on their looks or other characteristics such as engaging in homosexual behavior or cross-dressing.
Specifically, Mr. Epling has long lent his name and tragic personal experience in support of homosexual activists’ demand that anti-bullying legislation must segregate students into enumerated “protected class” categories based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” despite being listed as an officer of a national organization which a homosexual activist newspaper in Boston Thursday identified as “one of the most high-profile national groups pushing for (such) laws” but also “one of the key opponents of enumeration.” (Notably, only eight states have anti-bullying laws that include the “enumeration” endorsed by Mr. Epling here in Michigan.) http://www.baywindows.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=glbt&sc2=news&sc3=&id=105946
BullyPolice.org, which on its home page identifies Mr. Epling as one of its two national co-directors, warns:
“There should not be any major emphasis on defining victims. This addition into an anti-bullying law will cause several problems for lawmakers: …The way a bully’s target or victim acts or physically looks is not the victim’s problem… Defining victims will slow the process of lawmaking, dividing political parties who will argue over which victims get special rights over other victims. All children deserve the ‘special right’ not to be bullied. All children who are bullied need to be protected.”
(See full statement by BullyPolice.org founder, co-director, and executive director Brenda High below)
Having rejected the position of his own national organization, and done exactly the opposite of what BullyPolice.org counsels, Mr. Epling’s efforts in the Michigan legislature have produced precisely the results the organization predicts.
Yet he continues to lend his name and support to legislation — recently passed by the state House of Representatives — which despite retreating on the issue of specifically enumerating “protected classes,” still insists on attempting to define victims based on a victim’s “actual or perceived characteristic(s).” We’re told by reliable sources that such language, as in past years, will not be supported by the state Senate.
When Mr. Epling decides to take a position consistent with the organization he co-directs, rather than continue to endorse language demanded by homosexual activists and their political allies, he will find a major obstacle to passage of an anti-bullying bill — the very obstacle his own organization warns against — removed. (Other obstacles may remain; for example, the Lansing State Journal and Grand Rapids Press have both editorialized against such legislation, calling it an unnecessary legislative intrusion into an issue better handled by local parents, teachers, school boards, and law enforcement.)
Nonetheless, we urge Mr. Epling to join AFA-Michigan — and, more to the point, his own organization, BullyPolice.org — in opposing legislative language that attempts to “define victims,” in the current case based on the victim’s “actual or perceived characteristic(s).”
If that single line is removed from the House-passed bill, AFA-Michigan will, as we’ve long said, no longer oppose it.
As a parent of three teenagers, I greatly sympathize with Mr. Epling’s unimaginable loss of his son. In years past, I’ve discussed with him my belief that his endorsement alone would legitimize anti-bullying legislation that might actually pass, by simply protecting all students from all bullying without regard to personal characteristics, even if homosexual activists don’t like it. He refused. And as long as Mr. Epling continues to reject his own organization’s position and counsel, he himself will remain a prominent part of the reason no such legislation has reached the governor’s desk.
MAKING THE GRADE
by Brenda High, Executive Director
…3. There must be definitions of bullying and harassment.
Defining the problem is the key to solving the problem.
There should not be any major emphasis on defining victims. This addition into an anti-bullying law will cause several problems for lawmakers:
* Any child can be victimized by a bully. Remember that bullies bully because they can, and because they can get away with it.
* The way a bully’s target or victim acts or physically looks is not the victim’s problem but the bully’s own psychological problem. The bully is the root of the problem.
* Defining victims will slow the process of lawmaking, dividing political parties who will argue over which victims get special rights over other victims.
All children deserve the “special right” not to be bullied. ALL children who are bullied need to be protected.