Anti-Bullying Legislation Passes Michigan Senate

Courtney Williams's picture
Friday, November 4, 2011

The Michigan Senate passed legislation Wednesday that requires school districts to develop anti-bullying policies, but the father of the boy for whom the bill is named says he has strong objections to language inserted at the last minute.

One of the reforms will require school districts to have procedures in place to address bullying complaints. But the bill now also has language that says requirements don't "prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil's parent or guardian."

Kevin Epling, whose son Matt Epling killed himself in 2002 after being bullied, said that the added language will allow anyone to bully a student and cite their religious beliefs. He has worked with lawmakers for years to developed anti-bullying legislation.

"This is just unconscionable. This is government-sanctioned bigotry," said Epling of East Lansing, who said he is "ashamed" that lawmakers added the language at the last minute.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder wants Michigan to adopt an anti-bullying law.

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