FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wed., Dec. 16, 2009
CONTACT: Gary Glenn 989-835-7978
Sen. Wayne Kuipers 517-373-6920
Sen. Jerry Van Woerkom 517-373-1635
Family group concerned Kuipers, Van Woerkom may support “gay rights” language in school funding bill
Action expected Thursday as homosexual activists use concerns over student safety as Trojan Horse for “sexual orientation” agenda
LANSING — A statewide family values organization Wednesday expressed concern that two Republicans representing the GOP-controlled state Senate on a legislative conference committee may support adding “gay rights” language to a public school funding bill under the guise of protecting students from bullying, the first time ever such language would appear anywhere in state law.
The American Family Association of Michigan is asking its supporters to contact their own senators Thursday as well as Senate Education Committee Chairman Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and Sen. Jerry Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores, the two Republican members of a conference committee who Thursday will negotiate with representatives of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on the final version of “Race to the Top” legislation that would qualify Michigan for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education funding.
AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn, Midland, said his group is “hopeful that Republican state senators won’t allow themselves to be bullied by homosexual activist groups and House Democrats into caving in on this matter of principle in hopes of a payoff from federal tax dollars being dangled by the Obama Administration.”
“If lawmakers think parents, teachers, school boards, and law enforcement agencies in their districts can’t be trusted to protect student safety without a state mandate,” Glenn said, “they should simply pass a law prohibiting all bullying against all students for all reasons, not use the issue as a Trojan Horse to insert radical and precedent-setting language into state law for the first time establishing homosexual behavior or cross-dressing as a legal basis for special rights and protections.”
Glenn said the group trusted Kuipers in years past to oppose legislation that would establish special “protected classes” based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in state law in any context, but not after Kuipers was praised last December by the Triangle Foundation, a prominent homosexual activist group in Detroit, for throwing his support to so-called “anti-bullying” legislation during the closing days of last year’s lame-duck legislative session.
After the Senate Education Committee considered House Bill 4162 a year ago, both Kuipers and Van Woerkom voted to send it to the full Senate for a vote, with Van Woerkom telling the Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) newsletter: “I guess I’ve been one of the problems in getting this bill going, but as a former principal, I found it difficult to find that line between what is teasing and what is bullying.” http://www.bridges4kids.org:80/articles/12-08/MIRS12-4-08.html
The bill segregated students into special “protected classes” — including on the basis of so-called “sexual orientation” (homosexual behavior) and “gender identity” (cross-dressing) — then handed out special state-mandated protection against bullying expressly based on a student’s membership in one of those protected classes.
It failed when Senate GOP leadership refused to bring it up for a vote, but its supporters are now maneuvering to include it in a broader public schools funding and reform bill scheduled for immediate action. (See Michigan Messenger, “Michigan anti-bullying bill could find renewed life with ‘Race to the Top’,” http://michiganmessenger.com/31563/mich-anti-bullying-bill-could-find-renewed-life-with-race-to-the-top)
Glenn said to unmask the real agenda behind the so-called “bullying” legislation, Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, has proposed alternative language that would simply prohibit all bullying against all students for all reasons, but some homosexual activist groups and their legislative allies have refused to support a bill that would protect students from bullying without first segregating them into special “protected class” categories based on homosexual behavior and cross-dressing.
Former Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, in 2007 attempted to amend the House version of the legislation to strike the language segregating students into “protected class” categories and replace it with language simply and expressly prohibiting all bullying against all students for all reasons. House Democratic leaders refused to even allow a vote on Moolenaar’s amendment, and the legislation passed the House on a largely party-line vote.
The Michigan Association of School Boards has also in the past warned school districts against including “sexual orientation” in their anti-bullying and harassment policies.
As the Oakland Press reported in March 2005: “Bill Scharffe, director of bylaw and policy services for the Michigan Association of School Boards, advises local districts not to include the term ‘sexual orientation’ in their anti-harassment policies. ‘Schools need to be very careful with that,’ he said, noting that neither federal nor state civil rights laws consider people of a particular sexual orientation a protected class. He added that literal interpretation of ‘sexual orientation’ could include people who gravitate toward any sort of sexual activity, including that with animals, children and corpses.” http://www.theoaklandpress.com/stories/031305/edu_20050313006.shtml
Glenn said he has informed lawmakers and supporters of the legislation that if it is amended to protect all students from bullying without creating precedent-setting “protected class” status for the first time based on homosexual behavior and cross-dressing, AFA-Michigan will no longer urge lawmakers to oppose it.
He noted however, that some lawmakers and mainstream media have opposed the legislation on a broader basis. The editorial pages of the Lansing State Journal and the Grand Rapids Press, for example, have opposed the bills, arguing that public school safety is being competently handled by caring local parents, educators, school boards, and law enforcement personnel without mandates by the state Legislature.
Lansing State Journal editorial: “Bully bills: Again, leave bullying issue to local school boards,” April 17, 2007.
Grand Rapids Press editorial: “Anti-bullying law isn’t necessary: state schools already have policies to deal with issue,” April 4, 2007.
From: Triangle Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Sat, Dec 20, 2008 at 12:39 PM
Subject: Anti-bullying Bills Killed by Michigan Senate
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Detroit, MI — December 20, 2008 — Negotiations spanning two years and involving parents, educators, law enforcement officials and many others came to a halt late Thursday when Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-Dewitt) said he would not allow anti-bullying legislation to pass the Michigan Senate. The Republican Senate was ready to move on this bill; however, Senator Cropsey was even out of the conservative mainstream.
“Sen. Cropsey has long been an opponent of anti-bullying legislation in Michigan,” said Bernadette Brown, Director of Policy for the Triangle Foundation. “Last night he single-handedly ended an effort to protect young people in Michigan from harassment and assault.”
House Bills 4162 and 4091 would have required all school districts in Michigan to establish policies regarding school bullying, based on a definition of bullying that is in the State Board of Education model policy on this issue. The legislation would also have required all districts to provide a copy of their policies to the Michigan Department of Education, which would then report to the legislature on the status and quality of these policies throughout the state.
The legislative package â€“ titled Matt’s Safe Schools Law in honor of Matt Epling, an East Lansing eight-grader who took his own life in 2002 after a hazing incident â€“ passed the Michigan House in 2007. The package was voted out of the Senate Education Committee Dec. 11. After extensive negotiations, Senate Education Committee Chair Senator Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland) joined a team of legislators who had championed the bill including Senators Glen Anderson (D-Westland), Samuel “Buzz” Thomas (D-Detroit), Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) and Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) in working toward passage of the bill.
The trouble began late Thursday evening and spanned into early Friday morning. After a Republican caucus on the issue, Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and the caucus were unwilling to challenge Sen. Cropsey.
“It is a sad day for all of us,” said bill sponsor Rep. Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea), “but especially for the young people of our state and their parents, who were counting on this forward-looking policy to make Michigan schools safe for learning.” Michigan is one of only 11 states that do not have a law requiring some type of anti-bullying policy in schools. Triangle Foundation will continue to fight for all young people in Michigan by pursuing anti-bullying policies in all schools.
It is the mission of Triangle Foundation to promote equality and to secure freedom from violence, intimidation and discrimination for LGBT persons throughout Michigan.
Triangle Foundation, 19641 West Seven Mile Road, Detroit, Michigan 48219-2721
Michigan Information and Research Service
December 4, 2008
Anti-bullying bills move
After much delay, the Senate Education Committee also kicked out anti-bullying bills that passed the House a year and a half ago. The Michigan Safe Schools Coalition held another event at the Capitol last month pushing for passage (See “Bits and Tidbits,” 11/13/08).
HB 4091 and HB 4162, which are tie-barred together, would require schools to adopt a policy that prohibits harassment or bullying at school. The bills both moved with unanimous support. HB 4091 would be known as “Matt’s Safe School Law” in honor of Matt EPLING, a 14-year-old from East Lansing who committed suicide after being hazed at school.
The issue became mired in controversy when the American Family Association of Michigan (AFAM) headed by Gary GLENN took aim at legislation (See “Senators: AFAM Not Bullying On Bills,” 3/31/08).
The bills’ definition of harassment and bullying include what is “reasonably perceived to be motivated by an actual or perceived characteristic, such as height, weight, religion, race, color, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or by socioeconomic status or a mental, physical, or sensory disability or impairment, or is reasonably perceived to be based on association with another person who has or is perceived to have any of these characteristics or any other distinguishing characteristic.”
AFAM takes issue with sexual orientation and gender identity being included in the legislation, with Glenn complaining that “promotes the homosexual agenda.”
That issue did not come up in committee today.
Under the bills, the Department of Education would develop a model policy within 30 days after the effective date of the legislation. Schools would then have six months to adopt a policy. Within the following year, the department would submit a report to the Senate and House standing committees on Education on the policies.
“I guess I’ve been one of the problems in getting this bill going,” said Sen. Jerry VAN WOERKOM (R-Norton Shores). “But as a former principal, I found it difficult to find that line between what is teasing and what is bullying.”
Van Woerkom said he was satisfied with language that would allow local schools to make that determination.