Bullying in schools is a serious problem that must be addressed. In a misguided, poorly reasoned attempt to address it, Illinois legislators recently passed the disastrous “School Anti-Bullying Act” (SB 3266).
The problem of bullying did not necessitate any new state laws in that virtually every school in the state has more than adequate anti-bullying policy. The problem is not with a lack of policy, and the solution is certainly not this new, poorly constructed law.
For those who naively believe that “anti-bullying” policies, programs, and legislation are centrally about ending bullying, please note where and when Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the Illinois “School Anti-Bullying Act.” The symbolism of the time and place of the signing ceremony points to the real purpose of the legislation, which is to exploit legitimate anti-bullying sentiment and Illinois public schools to undermine traditional beliefs about the nature and morality of homosexuality and Gender Identity Disorder. If this legislation were not a Trojan Horse for getting homosexuality-affirming resources into public schools and were truly about addressing all forms of bullying, why would Quinn sign it into law on the Sunday morning of the Chicago “gay pride” parade, and why hold the ceremony at Nettelhorst Elementary School — the Chicago elementary school that has marched in the “gay pride” parade for two years — which happens to be located in the homosexual neighborhood called Boystown?
SB 3266 was initiated by the homosexual advocacy group Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (ISSA), which grew out of the unholy alliance of the Chicago chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation. According to the homosexual newspaper the Edge, “ISSA and its allies and predecessors worked more than a decade to get the legislation passed.” ISSA Executive Director Shannon Sullivan praised the passage of this legislation. You may recognize this name: Shannon Sullivan is the lesbian who has been working to introduce resources that affirm homosexuality and Gender Identity Disorder to elementary school children in Oak Park.
Below are some excerpts from the actual text with the most problematic language emphasized:
Bullying on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, gender-related identity or expression….
“Bullying” means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or electronically, directed toward a student or students that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:
causing a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s or students’ physical or mental health….
substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ academic performance; or substantially interfering with the student’s or students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school….
Bullying, as defined in this subsection (b), may take various forms, including without limitation one or more of the following: harassment, threats, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, theft, public humiliation, destruction of property, or retaliation for asserting or alleging an act of bullying. This list is meant to be illustrative and non-exhaustive….
Each school district and non-public, non-sectarian elementary or secondary school shall create and maintain a policy on bullying, which policy must be filed with the State Board of Education.
This legislation is disastrous for two reasons.
First, it is disastrous because it is an “enumerated” law which means it includes the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender-related identity or expression” (i.e., “transgenderism,” “transsexuality,” and cross-dressing) in the list of conditions for which students cannot be bullied. Why, in a non-exhaustive list that omits other conditions for which students are bullied, would these two be specifically named? Do our legislators and the crafters of this legislation actually expect the public to believe that there are more students bullied for their same-sex attraction or cross-dressing than for being shy, socially awkward, impulsive, overweight, studious, or athletically challenged? And why not use the proper term for “gender-related identity or expression” which is Gender Identity Disorder (GID)?
The answer is that the motives behind both the inclusion of these particular terms as well as the refusal to use the correct term, GID, are wholly political. Those who proposed and promoted this legislation are seeking to end bullying based on “real or perceived” homosexuality or GID by transforming the moral and political views of students. This new law with its inclusion of the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender-related identity and expression” will be used to introduce resources that implicitly and explicitly affirm homosexuality and GID in even elementary schools and will be used to simultaneously censor resources that espouse traditional views.
Second, it is disastrous because of its ambiguity. For example, the bill identifies bullying as “any severe verbal conduct that can be reasonably predicted to cause a substantially detrimental effect on a student’s mental health.”
- How is the vague phrase “substantially detrimental effect” defined? If a teacher brought in two scholars to debate same-sex adoption and one of the conservative scholar’s arguments was that homosexual acts are inherently morally flawed, could a homosexual student claim that he experienced a substantially detrimental effect on his mental health? Or what if a classmate made such a point in a classroom discussion?
- Do athletic codes that prohibit genetic males from joining the girls’ swim team “substantially interfere” with the ability of a boy who has GID to “participate in the activities provided by the school”?
- What if a teacher in order to have students study both sides of the public debate on same-sex marriage assigned reading from conservative scholars or columnists that asserted that same-sex marriage should not be legalized because homosexual practice is not moral? Could a homosexual student claim that he was publicly humiliated?
- Does this new legislation render illegal a high school dress code that prohibits boys from wearing lipstick and dresses to school?
- If a school counselor were to provide a student or his parents with information about GID counseling, could that be considered gender identity discrimination or bullying if the student claimed the provision of such information humiliated him or had a detrimental effect on his health?
- If a school prohibited a boy with GID from using the girls’ bathrooms, could the school be found liable for violating this law?
- Does this require all public and private non-religious schools to create policy on bullying that specifically mentions “sexual orientation” and “gender-related identity and expression”?
Since the list of bases on which bullying is prohibited is deliberately “non-exhaustive,” what is the justification for the exclusion of other conditions for which students may be bullied? The current legislation gives examples from three broad categories of conditions but offers no reasons for the inclusion of some conditions and the exclusion of others:
1. Disorders (e.g., GID): Why does the bill include only one disorder (i.e., GID) while excluding other disorders, like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyper-Active Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anorexia, bulimia, and Aspberger’s Syndrome, all of which can lead to behaviors for which kids are bullied? And why does the bill not use the correct designation, Gender Identity Disorder, rather than the politically biased terms “gender-related identity and expression”? It seems likely that there are more students in public schools who are ridiculed for behaviors related to ADD, ADHD, or Aspberger’s Syndrome than there are students who are ridiculed for behaviors related to GID.
The inclusion of only this one psychological disorder and the failure to use the correct designation reflect the acceptance of particular assumptions regarding the nature and morality of cross-dressing that are controversial and unproven. The use of the politically biased phrase, “gender-related identity and expression” exposes the political nature of this bill and the influence of the “transgender”-affirming Illinois Safe Schools Alliance in the creation of this legislation.
2. Conditions centrally defined by impulses and volitional behavior that carry moral implications (e.g., “sexual orientation” and Gender Identity Disorder): Why does the bill exclude other behaviors that many consider immoral and for which kids may be bullied, like “sexting,” aggression, stealing, plagiarizing, drug use, and promiscuity? For example, students who use drugs are called “druggies” and “stoners,” and girls who are promiscuous are called “sluts” and “hos.” Obviously, schools no more need policy that specifically mentions homosexuality to protect homosexual students than they need policy that mentions promiscuity in order to protect promiscuous students.
The reason that no other conditions that are centrally defined by desire and volitional acts that many deem immoral are included is that the crafters of this legislation seek to use law to promote the unproven belief that homosexuality and GID are analogous to race. By including these conditions in a list of morally neutral conditions, they seek to reinforce implicitly their false assumption that homosexuality and GID are morally neutral. Indeed, the use of the political term “sexual orientation,” which embodies the ideas of biological determinism, immutability, and moral neutrality, rather than “homosexuality” further exposes the political nature of this legislation. When crafting their own policy, schools should replace “sexual orientation” with the less political term “homosexuality.” (Further, when replacing the term “sexual orientation,” there is no reason to add the term “bisexuality,” because no one is bullied for the heterosexual part of bisexuality.)
3. Conditions that carry no moral implications (e.g., race, sex, and disability): the crafters of this bill excluded other morally neutral conditions for which far more students are bullied, like obesity, nearsightedness, farsightedness, acne, speech impediments, shyness, social awkwardness, or lack of athletic ability. These omissions further reveal the political nature of this legislation.
Focus on the Family’s anti-bullying project, True Tolerance, warns against the inclusion of specific categories:
Listing certain categories creates a system ripe for reverse discrimination, sending the message that certain characteristics are more worthy of protection than others. Instead of bringing more peace and unity, this can politicize the school environment and introduce divisiveness among different groups of students and parents.
A more general, and therefore more inclusive, description would be far superior. It’s too bad Illinois legislators didn’t consider the apolitical, concise, and inclusive anti-bullying policy created by the Alliance Defense Fund.
The new Illinois law requires the creation of a fifteen-member Task Force whose responsibility it will be to make recommendations “for preventing and addressing bullying in schools in this State.” The Task Force is required by this bill to include a high school or college student who has been bullied. This student should be someone who has been bullied for characteristics such as race or disability that have no behavioral manifestations about which there is moral controversy.
The Task Force must also include representatives from organizations that address bullying. To avoid yet even more policy blunders, these representatives should be from organizations that are not centrally concerned with the partisan socio-political goal of normalizing homosexuality. To avoid the appearance of being a tool for the homosexual movement, the Task Force should exclude representatives from GLSEN and the Safe Schools Alliance or balance them with representatives from conservative organizations like IFI.
So far only twelve states, including, unfortunately, Illinois, have anti-bullying legislation that specifically mentions “sexual orientation” and “gender identity/expression.” The inclusion of these terms in anti-bullying policies and legislation allows homosexualists to use them as cultural battering rams to destroy First Amendment speech and religious protections. The central purpose of the inclusion of these terms in legislation and policy is not to protect homosexuals and “transgenders” but to censor the expression of traditional moral beliefs and ultimately eradicate them.