Christian Right Backs “License To Bully” Bill
Republican legislators in Tennessee are looking at anti-bullying policies after openly gay teenager Jacob Rogers shot himself to death December 7.
Hundreds have signed a petition to toughen the anti-bullying policy, and more than 1,700 have signed a similar online petition started by the Tennessee Equality Project, a gay-rights group.
In public meetings, other students have told stories of ridicule and abuse.
But the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) is backing a “License to Bully” bill.
In a recent email sent to supporters, the Family Action Council of Tennessee declared its support for the “License to Bully” bill (HB1153/SB0750):
We plan to press the legislature to amend our state’s school anti-bullying law to make sure it protects the religious liberty and free speech rights of students who want to express their views on homosexuality.
One legislator is blaming the victim.
In correspondence with the Tennessee Equality Project, the state’s main gay rights group, state Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, claimed gay people commit suicide at a higher rate than others and suggested Jacob’s sexuality itself drove him to kill himself. Ragan asked whether the suicide could have had “more to do with his own proclivities and behavior than anything to do with schoolmate bullies …”
Blaming the victim is necessary to prevent Jacob’s death from damaging chances for passage of F.A.C.T.’s 2012 state legislative priority—a bill to make it easier for young bigots to mistreat gay schoolkids. This legislation brought by conservative Christians who oppose special protections for gay people actually gives special protections to homophobic bullies.
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