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Bullying and gay rights

Thursday, Apr 29, 2010

* The problems of bullying at schools has attracted much attention over the past several years, and the General Assembly has just sent an anti-bullying bill to the governor. Schools will have to adopt anti-bullying policies. It was watered down from its original format, which also required education and record-keeping.

This clause was also included

Provides that nothing in the bullying prevention provisions is intended to infringe upon any right to exercise free expression or the free exercise of religion or religiously based views protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or under Section 3 or 4 of Article 1 of the Illinois Constitution.

That was probably added via an amendment because gay rights groups were helping push the bill. The definition of bullying includes the usual race, national origin, etc., but also includes sexual orientation….

“At long last, schools across the state will be uniformly required to take steps to protect vulnerable kids from bullying and violence,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s largest gay rights advocate.

“Students who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are particularly vulnerable to bullying. And the attempted suicide rate rate among LGBT students, which is as much as three times higher than the general average, presents alarming evidence for just how urgently we need this law.”

Some on the religious Right were wary of the legislation, but it eventually passed the House unanimously and only two Senators voted against it.

Even so, Focus on the Family is not pleased

Well, it’s happened again. Another state legislature has marched lock-step to the tune of the homosexual activist agenda—and once again, it will have a direct impact on local schools.

More…

Why are the advocacy groups so excited? As we have previously explained, the problem with these laws—enumerating special protections for homosexual categories–is that activist groups are using them as the leverage they need to get things like homosexuality teaching into public school classrooms. For detailed examples, click here.

Focus on the Family believes that every student—no matter who they are or what they believe—should be protected from harm. But at the same time, laws should not be passed that can used as tools to sexualize and politicize the entire school environment. There are good alternatives that provide protection to kids, but avoid entrapment in identity politics—such as the fair and objective model anti-bullying policy language drafted by the Alliance Defense Fund.

Here’s that “model bill” language

“Bullying” means systematic, repeated, or recurrent conduct committed by a
student or group of students against another student that causes measurable physical harm or
emotional distress. Verbal expression, whether oral, written, or electronic, is included within the definition of “bullying” only to the extent that (1) such expression is lewd, indecent, obscene, advocating for illegal conduct, intended to incite an immediate breach of peace, or the severe and pervasive use of threatening words that inflict injury; or (2) District administrators or officials reasonably believe that such expression will cause an actual, material disruption of school work.

The Illinois bill which just past is far more specific on what actually constitutes bullying

“Bullying” means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or electronically, directed toward a student or students that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:
(1) placing the student or students in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s or students’ person or property;
(2) causing a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s or students’ physical or mental health;
(3) substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ academic performance; or
(4) substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

Bullying, as defined in this subsection (b), may take various forms, including without limitation one or more of the following: harassment, threats, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, theft, public humiliation, destruction of property, or retaliation for asserting or alleging an act of bullying. This list is meant to be illustrative and non-exhaustive.

It also specifies who the proposal covers…

…actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, gender-related identity or expression,unfavorable discharge from military service, association witha person or group with one or more of the aforementioned actual or perceived characteristics, or any other distinguishing characteristic is prohibited in all school districts and non-public, non-sectarian elementary and secondary schools.

I can see Focus on the Family’s point about their more neutral measure, but I just don’t get how this Illinois bill will inject “homosexuality teaching into public school classrooms.” The only education component already exists in our state’s original anti-bullying statute…

[Schools] must communicate its policy on bullying to its students and their parent or guardian on an annual basis

* As we all know too well, some things just make people go off, and “homosexual rights” is one of them. Tom Roeser’s latest post is about his outrage over WTTW’s airing of a Carol Marin interview with Rep. Deb Mell and her partner about their pending marriage in Iowa. Roeser is a longtime conservative activist with a weekly radio show on WLS and didn’t much care for the WTTW program

So just remember this. Get a coalition started to be in readiness when the next `TTW fund-raiser comes `round. That’s when the solicitation airwaves will be filled with the total traditional…replays of the late Lawrence Welk where traditional family life was glorified…or re-do’s of Peter, Paul & Mary where the trio’s goal was peace toward all.

That’s when your campaign should get going. Stressing to all that just when they feel soft, tender-hearted and magnanimous, that `TTW has become an articulate instrument of the Left and the culture—for which the enthusiast Marin has become its leading advocate.

Give `em a buck and you’ll be rewarded by more Marin-gay marriage promo’d telecasts along with other exotic formulae of the Left… all sponsored by “viewers like you.”

The Tribune was far more tame

The laws of individual states are starting to reflect this evolving sensibility. Only five states allow same-sex marriage. Nine others have laws recognizing civil unions or domestic partnerships that convey most or all of the rights of marriage, and six have laws that go part of the way.

With so many people conflicted over the definition of marriage, it makes sense to claim the common ground — and secure the benefits — that come with recognizing civil unions.

* Related and a roundup…

* Sun-Times: Gay couples deserve same marriage rights

* Mell unlikely to get blessing of gay marriage opponents in Illinois

* Lesbian state rep makes plea for same-sex marriage: Gov. Quinn, though called out by Mell, said he would like to see Illinois recognize civil unions. “I think that’s an issue that we can pass in Illinois, and I hope soon. I’ve known Debbie Mell since she was knee high to a duck,” Quinn said. “I honor her decisions.” However, Mell indicated civil unions were not enough.

* Mell Engaged, Lobbies for Same Sex Marriage

* Ill. state rep announces she will marry partner in Iowa

* Lawmaker’s engagement spotlights gay marriage (AP)

* Lawmaker’s engagement spotlights gay marriage “This is an issue that the [Republican] party ought to get off of,” Beaubien said of the GOP’s traditional opposition to gay marriage. “It’s a whole different mindset than when I was young.” Beaubien said he understands the polarization of issues like abortion, which inevitably moves people in one of two directions. “But what do you care what two grown adults do?” Beaubien said. “It just makes us look more strident than we probably should.”

* Schoenburg: Many — but not all — applaud Mell’s announcement

* Gay Activists Claim Victory with Illinois School Bill

* Latino leaders call for greater state presence

* Chicago aldermen lobby for state funding

* Legislature backs Daley’s effort to crack down on gun violence

* Lawmakers approve gun measure Daley pushed

* State Senate Approves Tough New Gun Measure

* Tribune: Flush with money

* Illinois House Passes Wage Theft Bill

* Measure to extend tuition freezes gets House OK

* Ill. Republicans make final effort to force vote on redistricting plan

* Cavaletto Infrastructure Development Bill Passes Senate

* The STAR bonds debate: Where does it stand?

* Tax increase for Collinsville’s Fairmount Park track goes to Quinn

* Daily Herald: Village should have final say on slots

* Our View: It’s time to help severely ill; approve medical marijuana

* Ill. lawmakers offer break to wrongly imprisoned

- Posted by Rich Miller        

31 Comments
  1. - disgusted in chi boogie - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    Rich-
    Where you talk about Roser’s oturage you say that Rep. Mell is getting married in Indiana when I think it is Iowa. Thanks for covering this. I just don’t understand all the outrage. If someone wants to commit to caring loving and protecting someone for the rest of their days (or until they get sick of the other person) how can this be a bad thing? It’s a *^^%&*#^ shame.


  2. - Brennan - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:00 pm:

    I believe my social conservative friends are misguided. The path to equality and an exemption for churches is to get the government out of marriage.


  3. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:08 pm:

    “Get the government out of marriage”…

    So you’d be ok allowing child marriage as long as there was a religious institution that allows it? Polygamy? Bestiality? Shotgun weddings? Etc.

    Face it, there’s going to be SOME governmental interest in marriage, if nothing else, to ensure mutual consent and protect against coercion.


  4. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:19 pm:

    Hope no one at the Big 89 put superglue on Tom’s headphones Sunday night


  5. - ABCBoy - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:22 pm:

    ==
    I can see Focus on the Family’s point about their more neutral measure, but I just don’t get how this Illinois bill will inject “homosexuality teaching into public school classrooms.” The only education component already exists in our state’s original anti-bullying statute…
    ==

    Just a shot in the dark here, but my guess is that they’re worried about the future ability of groups to define being “left out” as equivalent to “bullying.” So for example, if a health class or social studies class talks about family units, communities, human sexuality, etc., then the simple act of omitting one possibility (in this case, a gay couple/marriage/homosexuality/the gay culture what have you) would then constitute “bullying.”

    I’m not exactly sure that the current legislation would actually create that scenario, but my guess is that’s maybe where their thinking is going here…


  6. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:23 pm:

    - Face it, there’s going to be SOME governmental interest in marriage, if nothing else, to ensure mutual consent and protect against coercion. -

    Sure John, the government will probably always try to make sure people aren’t raped or forced to do anything at gunpoint, but that in no way has to mean they need to be involved in marriage. Your use of this argument is just pandering to the types of people you think you can fool.


  7. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    Mell unlikely to get blessing of gay marriage opponents in Illinois

    Did this headline need to be written? What kind of story would follow such a headline, and how would it make those with differing opinions on this issue than Mell, appear? I don’t know if the editor thought this headline would be catchy, or accurate - but what he ended up with is a headline that is too biased for print within the Tribune.


  8. - girllawyer - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    And it the government (not the church) that determines inheritance rights, custody issues with children, property rights, even taxation issues. To say that the government has no role in marriage is to close your eyes to the reality of how society is structured. Maybe there will or should be changes but you can’t just pretend government has no role.


  9. - Montrose - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:25 pm:

    *So you’d be ok allowing child marriage as long as there was a religious institution that allows it? Polygamy? Bestiality? Shotgun weddings? Etc.

    Face it, there’s going to be SOME governmental interest in marriage, if nothing else, to ensure mutual consent and protect against coercion.*

    I think what Brennan is saying - at least this is my interpretation and where I am leaning too - that we recognize that marriage is the dominion of the church and civil unions be the dominion of the government. There can still be restrictions on what would be eligible for a civil union. Throwing things like bestiality out there is a red hearing, and you know it.


  10. - ABCBoy - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:30 pm:

    ==
    To say that the government has no role in marriage is to close your eyes to the reality of how society is structured. Maybe there will or should be changes but you can’t just pretend government has no role.
    ==

    Agreed. Same w/ Bambenek. However, I think the separation of “legal rights” versus a “faith based covenant” is the difference. The first involves the state, the second is purely a private religious based experience.

    ==
    government will probably always try to make sure people aren’t raped or forced to do anything at gunpoint, but that in no way has to mean they need to be involved in marriage.
    ===

    Consent doesn’t always have to happen by force. There are psychological issues at play. The state has sexual harassment laws about bosses & underlings, teachers & students, etc. We have consent laws for sex and marriage based on age and familial relationships because it’s widely recognized that at certain young ages and/or with certain familial relationships, the brain just isn’t hard-wired to make rational decisions. Too much risk of undue influence.


  11. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:30 pm:

    - And it the government (not the church) that determines inheritance rights, custody issues with children, property rights, even taxation issues. -

    Yes, and the government does this for married and unmarried people alike, so this argument doesn’t hold up either.


  12. - ABCBoy - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    *correction: not ‘consent doesn’t always…’/'COERCION doesn’t always…’


  13. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:35 pm:

    - We have consent laws for sex and marriage based on age and familial relationships because it’s widely recognized that at certain young ages and/or with certain familial relationships, the brain just isn’t hard-wired to make rational decisions. -

    Sure we do. But why marriage exactly, other than the fact that the government is involved? The only thing that makes marriage more than a religious ritual is government involvement. Without that, would there be something inherently wrong with two people under the age of 18 being allowed to have their relationship recognized by their church? Let the government enforce laws that protect people, that can be done without the government recognizing some relationships and not others.


  14. - This Little Piggie - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:39 pm:

    Hypocritical.

    The state bullies and discriminates against homosexuals every day.


  15. - Peggy SO-IL - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 12:47 pm:

    I think government needs to recognize marriage contracts for purposes of financial and property rights of spouses and the (natural and adopted) children of married couples. I have no problem with people who do not marry, as we understand marriage as between a man and a woman, to be able to enter into contracts regarding property rights and hospital visitation, inheritance, etc. I don’t think any social conservatives would oppose such an idea. Marriage has always been a bigger social construct than the feelings of 2 people. Anthropological studies have shown it’s always been about alliances, kinship, reproduction (hetero), & social order.

    I don’t understand the need to make “bullying” against the law. Isn’t physical assault against the law and school rules? There have always been bullies in schools. Schools have always had the responsibility to punish kids who pick on others or physically abuse them. We have a generation of brutal kids raised without morals apparently and the non-religious public schools are some how responsible for teaching such things without being moral or religious. With including sexual orientation as a specific victim class, the concern here is that any opposition to homosexuality expressed by a teacher or kid is going to be considered bullying. People have a right to their views, for now, anyway.


  16. - anon - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 1:11 pm:

    Bullying? Gay Marriage? Lets try and focus here people. The hard decisions involve the budget.


  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 1:19 pm:

    anon, unlike yourself, we can focus on more than one thing at a time here. Don’t like it, go away or post on one of those threads. I don’t see you showing up on any of those, or any in the past, either.


  18. - girllawyer - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 1:33 pm:

    So, if the government has no role in marriage how is it decided who gets custody of the children when the religiously blessed couple splits? What happens to spousal pension rights? Who gets the house they bought together? Yes, Small Town Liberal, the government makes laws for the married and the unmarried but some of those laws are based on marital status! Sheesh!


  19. - Chathamite - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 1:44 pm:

    As an LGBT person myself, I applaud the legislation. This was needed years ago.


  20. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 1:56 pm:

    It’s not pandering, it’s a serious question. If government “has no role”, what is preventing “abusive” religions allowing “abusive” marriages? What’s to prevent some church cropping up and saying they believe 4 year olds should get married?

    “Government should have no role” is a nice sounding little soundbite, but its unworkable in reality. There will always be and should always be SOME prohibitions to who can or cannot get married. We’re just haggling over the particulars.


  21. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 2:17 pm:

    - What’s to prevent some church cropping up and saying they believe 4 year olds should get married? -

    What does it matter? If there are no laws being broken, who cares? Sure, that church won’t be allowed to force those minors to have sex, or live together without supervision, those are laws that the government enforces for people regardless of marriage.


  22. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 2:19 pm:

    - We’re just haggling over the particulars. -

    And thats a pretty broad phrase to describe bigotry. You’re trying to prevent capable, responsible adults from entering relationships that other capable, responsible adults are allowed to enter. Comparing that to 4 year olds or farm animals is reprehensible.


  23. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 2:59 pm:

    - So, if the government has no role in marriage how is it decided who gets custody of the children when the religiously blessed couple splits? What happens to spousal pension rights? Who gets the house they bought together? -

    Is everyone with children married? Can you buy a house with someone you’re not married to? Sure can. Spousal pension is something that would have to be dealt with, but it certainly isn’t a insurmountable obstacle. Do you use these kinds of arguments in court?


  24. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 4:03 pm:

    –So you’d be ok allowing child marriage as long as there was a religious institution that allows it? Polygamy? Bestiality? Shotgun weddings? Etc.–

    I doubt that. Dude, you’re way down on the churches. In my neighborhood, I can’t think of one that’s looking to roll that way.

    The bill’s intention is good, of course, but probably not necessary in schools where there are strong teachers, staff and principal. Do they really need to be told it’s not okay to allow bullying of gay kids?

    As far as bullies go at any level, my old man told me thousands of times that delivering a punch in the nose is well worth the pain and trouble. Very satisfying. Remember, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.


  25. - Ghost - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 4:09 pm:

    consider that mariage developed as a social/societyal system of conveying property rights. It looks to pre-exist religion, although religion co-opted the practice when it added its own sping or set of rules to the act of being married.

    The government regulates wine and marriage, both which are in some religions, and both existed before organized religion.

    The anti-gay marriage people should consider, that much of what they may like, alcohol, certain typed of food etc are prohibited by other religions. If government adopts religious doctorine, instead of social regualtion, for the application of mariage, then that opens the dor to ban meat, liquor etc as well for religions which find them improper/repugnant.


  26. - Honest Abe - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 4:23 pm:

    I wonder if the sponsors of the Illinois that decriminalized consensual same sex relations — in private — assured their colleagues in Springfield that the passage of such a measure would in no way lead the way for calls for same sex marriages?

    Tom Roeser is absolutely right about WTTW.


  27. - Honest Abe - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 4:24 pm:

    Should read “the sponsors of the Illinois law” above.


  28. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 5:51 pm:

    Under the Alliance Defense Fund “model” language, a group of students could confront a gay student in the hallway or on the playground every day with chants of “fag, fag, fag - God hates you and you’re going to burn” and not be engaged in “bullying”, because 1) such expression is not “lewd, indecent, obscene, advocating for illegal conduct, intended to incite an immediate breach of peace, or the severe and pervasive use of threatening words that inflict injury” and (2) does not “cause an actual, material disruption of school work.” Who are they trying to fool?


  29. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Apr 29, 10 @ 7:50 pm:

    The bullying bill is a horrible idea. If we ban bullying in schools, how will children learn to deal with bullies as adults?

    Most schools have already banned dodge ball, what more do these zealots want?


  30. - Dissude217 - Friday, Apr 30, 10 @ 12:54 am:

    Peer victimization/bullying at any age is unacceptable. This is an important bill. There is plenty of literature available explaining the negative consequences for society as a whole regarding bullying. It should also be noted that bullying is usually a symptom that another problem is going on with the bully.


  31. Pingback ADF Alliance Alert » Illinois: “Bullying and gay rights” - Friday, Apr 30, 10 @ 12:15 pm:

    […] The Capitol Fax Blog: “The problems of bullying at schools has attracted much attention over the past several years, and the General Assembly has just sent an anti-bullying bill to the governor. Schools will have to adopt anti-bullying policies. It was watered down from its original format, which also required education and record-keeping . . . Even so, Focus on the Family is not pleased . . . ‘There are good alternatives that provide protection to kids, but avoid entrapment in identity politics—such as the fair and objective model anti-bullying policy language drafted by the Alliance Defense Fund.’” […]


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