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Demand for MI “Safe Schools” Heads to State Capitol

March 26, 2008

Lansing, MI – Teachers, students and parents are headed to the State Capitol today to take on the school bully. They're backing "Matt's Safe School Law," which would require schools to have stated policies that harassment based on sexual orientation is not allowed. The bill is named after a student who killed himself after being bullied at school.

Jennifer Chrisler with the Family Equality Council says several studies have shown that clear policies outlining student conduct are a powerful tool.

"Safe schools legislation that clearly enumerates sexual orientation and gender identity are shown to be a strong deterrent in terms of harassment."

The bill was approved by the House a year ago, but has been stuck in a Senate committee. Several Michigan "family" groups are against the bill because they're concerned it legitimizes homosexuality, which is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Dr. Joe Kosciw with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network has researched "safe schools" policies across the country.

"Students who attend schools with a 'safe school policy' report that it's a better climate, and we found parents were more likely to feel included."

More information on Kosciw's research is available online at www.glsen.org.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MI