Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Montana Republicans like bullies

Friday, Montana’s Board of Education decided to require anti-bullying policies in all of the state’s school districts. As the Missoulian notes, the policy is needed largely as protection from liability if a student is injured or inflicts injuries as a result of bullying. Make a state policy to forbid bullying a no-brainer, right? Who would oppose such a thing? For starters, the state’s Republican legislators. Why? Because there’s some mighty disagreeable language in the policy, that’s why!
One of those features says the policy should “acknowledge that victims of (bullying) are often targeted because their perceived vulnerabilities,” which can include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”...
According to the Billings-Gazette, conservatives dislike the language because they’re afraid it will promote gay rights.
The issue of sexual orientation has been a hot-button element of the school bullying debate, as opponents argued that a bullying policy could be used to advance homosexual rights and causes. Harris Himes, pastor at the Big Sky Christian Center in Hamilton, predicted Friday that the policies would "give fodder to the American Civil Liberties Union" or others to "promote gay causes."
So...what does this say to Montana’s gay teens? It sure looks like Republicans are advocating bullying gays, doesn’t it? When I was a kid, using homophobic slurs against the weak or different was a valued weapon in the arsenal of a bully. That there were no openly gay students in my high school was no surprise: the threat of violence always lurked behind the insults. But that was the 1980s. Shouldn’t we be beyond that? Shouldn’t gay students have the right to go to school without fear of being beaten? If the morality police of the state have their way, Montana bullies could still be used to enforce conservative social standards. But then, bullying has always been an important tactic of the GOP.
They'd rather protect Matthew Shepard's attackers than protect Matthew Shepard.
I look back to my high school days (20 years ago) and remember some of the boys who were harassed constantly by the "jocks". Along with the physical abuse, they were called "fairies", "queers", "faggots", etc.

Flash forward 20 years...

Those boys are now grown men and are openly homosexual. Was it the bullying that made them that way? Not hardly. Was it society? In our conservative rural farming town? Not hardly. That is just how they were made and nothing could have prevented it.

When I think about how a little compassion, sensitivity, and acceptance could have gone a long way during their high school years as they developed into adulthood, it makes me want to cry. Many of us consider our high school years to have been four years of living hell, but I can't even fathom what these wonderful individuals had to experience internally and externally. I can't imagine MY God condoning this type of behavior to ANY of His beloved children.
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