By Kelly Boggs, Baptist Message Editor
The word bully, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as a person or persons who “intimidate or persecute [someone weaker].” Though the practice has likely been around since the beginning of mankind’s existence, the advent of the Internet and proliferation of social media has given bullies new and innovative ways to torment their victims.
Situations have occurred where the bullying has been so relentless and intense that victims were driven to commit suicide, a practice that is now referred to as “bullycide.”
Bully, a documentary by Lee Hirsch that calls attention to the harsh reality of bullying, is currently showing in select theaters in the United States. The film focuses on students victimized by bullies and the families of children who committed suicide in response to being bullied.
Though the motives for bullying are varied, they are irrelevant. It is a cowardly and despicable behavior that should never, ever be tolerated for any reason. That said, some lifestyle activists are taking advantage of the bully problem to push an agenda.
In Louisiana, House Bill 407 was recently debated before the House Education Committee. The legislation sought to deal with “harassment, intimidation, and bullying in public schools.” The scope of the law also included “cyber-bullying.”
While the bill was touted as seeking to deal with bullying in broad general terms, there are reasons that indicate the legislation was really about the introduction of sexual politics into Louisiana’s public schools.
Bullying, the bill stipulated, would be prohibited based on “race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, exceptionalities, physical disability, intellectual disability, developmental disability, mental illness or emotional health disorder, language ability, sexual orientation, physical characteristic, gender identity, gender expression, political ideas or affiliations, socioeconomic status, or association with other identified by such characteristics.”
HB 407 attempted to identify the many reasons a student in a public school might be bullied, but even the bill itself admits there could be other reasons for bullying by prefacing the list with “including but not limited to … “ If the enumerated list was not exhaustive, why not use broader, more inclusive language that would include all bullying? Or, why not simply state that bullying will not be tolerated in any shape, form or fashion?
Testimony was given that stated the enumerated list was needed to help teachers. More than one person indicated that currently teachers are unable to recognize bullying when it is taking place. The enumerated list, so it seemed, would be a magic wand that would allow teachers to suddenly be able to identify bullying.
The actual intent of the bill came to light when Rep. Jeff Thompson (R), from Bossier City, La., moved to amend the bill and remove the list enumerating the motives for bullying. His amendment also stipulated four hours of training for teachers in order to help them identify bullying behavior.
“Bullying is an act, not a motive,” Thompson said. “I don’t care why you are bullying, it should stop.”
When Thompson’s amendment passed the committee by a vote of 10 to 5, Democratic Rep. Pat Smith from Baton Rouge, who introduced the legislation, chose to defer the bill. “Members, rather than you degrade a bill that was meant for [the] safety of children, which is what you’ve just done by this amendment,” Smith told the committee, “I am pulling the bill.”
Thompson’s amendment was both reasonable and practical. It did not diminish the bullying bill at all. I am of the opinion that it made the legislation more comprehensive – in essence saying that bullying in any shape, form or fashion will not be tolerated – and also required training for teachers.
Even though Thompson’s amendment did not reduce the impact of the bullying legislation, Smith pulled the bill. Why? Because the enumerated list that contained the language of sexual politics, which was strategically situated in the legislation, was stripped.
Bullying is wrong. No child should be bullied for any reason. Teachers should stop it whenever they encounter it. If a teacher does not stop bullying or, worse yet, if a teacher participates in the despicable behavior, he or she should be fired.
However, using bullying bills to push the agenda of sexual politics in public schools is just plain wrong.
HB 407, as amended by the Louisiana’s House Education Committee would have been a tool that could have been used to help address the issue of bullying in public schools. However, because the legislation was stripped of the language of sexual politics, the bill’s author pulled it.
Bullying is a tragic reality in our society. However, it is made even more tragic when lifestyle activists seek to use it as cover to push their agenda of sexual politics.