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MI House Passes New Version of Controversial Anti-Bullying Law

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 By Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI, Contact
November 11, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan is one small step closer to getting anti-bullying legislation in place, this time without a controversial clause which caused a lot of uproar the first time round. The measure, known as "Matt's Safe School Law," originally passed through the Senate with religious exemptions. That amendment created a firestorm of controversy in the legislature, with Democrats accusing Republicans of creating a license to bully.

Late Thursday, another version of the bill passed the House, and this time the controversial language was removed.

Dr. Jennifer Martin, action vice president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in Michigan, says there should be no place to permit what she calls a "pass to harass" in Michigan schools. She says the House version is a better bill, but she still wishes the legislature would enact an enumerated anti-bullying law that specifically lists classes of people most often targeted for bullying because of race, creed, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

"No matter what semantic choices Michigan legislators make with this bill, schools are still legally obligated by federal civil rights guidelines to protect students from bullying and harassment, including gay students."

The bill now goes back to the Senate, where it is expected to pass in its revised version.

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