Anti-bullying policies should include LGBT protection

Eric BestâÄôs column on LGBT neutrality policy in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in the Jan. 24 Minnesota Daily shares a dark, repeating story. We see it time and time again: A 15-year-old is assaulted in a classroom full of students for no offense other than being gay, the assailant receiving only three days worth of suspension and the victim facing stonefaced bureaucrats whose helping hands are tied behind their backs by neutrality clauses.

Many school districtsâÄô anti-bullying policies include protections for gender, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin and disability. However, as far as someone who has a different sexual orientation or gender identity, sorry, you are not invited to the party! At least that is what it feels like in my experience.

The Michigan State Senate inserted special language into their anti-bullying bill to exempt bullying done because of a âÄúsincerely held religious or moral convictionâÄù covered by the new law. This loophole would give young bigoted and homophobic bullies a convenient cover to hide behind.

While this government-sanctioned bigotry in Michigan was stopped, Tennessee now has their own âÄúlicense to bullyâÄù bill, called HB 1153. Its free speech constitutional platitudes logically contradict their own infamous âÄúDonâÄôt Say GayâÄù bill which gags teachers and school staff from providing any educational support for LGBT identities.

For the legislators involved, I suspect that underneath all the tough conservative talk on order, discipline and punishment, deep down there must be some kind of soft spot for the bully who beats up on the gay kid. What other explanation can there be?