This session of the Indiana General Assembly considered–and defeated–an anti-bullying bill offered by State Senator Tom Wyss. The bill was similar to measures being considered in other states, and all of them have been offered in response to several high-profile cases where teenagers have committed suicide after relentless bullying by their classmates or peers.
You’d think such a bill would pass easily. Who, after all, is in favor of bullying? But in Indiana, the proposal was opposed by the Christian Right because–wait for it–it might protect gay youngsters. Obviously, a bill to prevent young men or women from picking on other youngsters perceived to be gay would violate the rights of those who don’t like gays.
If you think I am making this up, permit me to reproduce a paragraph from a recent issue of the Indiana Family Association’s weekly email.
“AFA of Indiana opposes the act of bullying of all students, regardless of the motives of the bully or the perceived status of the victim. However, many bullying bills and programs have become a Trojan Horse for the homosexual demands groups. There is a danger here in unfairly casting students with traditional values as bullies, silencing legitimate views, or creating specially protected classes of children as opposed to focusing on actual acts of bullying. There is an outstanding web site on this issue that parents, teachers and policy makers should investigate. True Tolerance has information about the problem of bullying as well as the concerns surrounding many of the school programs and the ulterior objectives of some homosexual activists pushing this agenda.”
In other words, AFA is against bullying. However, when the target of that behavior is gay, they are concerned about the “real motives” involved. Protecting gay children from abuse is just part of the “homosexual agenda,” intended to stigmatize those who express their disapproval of homosexuality with enthusiasm.
Reminds me of a case that the Indiana ACLU handled when I was Executive Director. A twelve-year-old in a southern Indiana middle school was being routinely beaten up on the playground, and despite frequent complaints from the parents, the school administration’s response was “boys will be boys.” The principal actually told the ACLU lawyer handling the case that the victim of the abuse brought it on himself, by “acting different.”
Bullying gay kids is just the expression of the bullies’ 1st Amendment rights. And the AFA is so solicitious of our constitutional liberties.