Tennessee Bill Justifies Bullying

By , 17, Staff Writer
March 2, 2012

Imagine walking down the halls in a new school. You’re wearing this season’s most popular shoes and a bracelet that your best friend from your last school made for you. Then someone bumps into you, you’re sent flying into a locker. “Nice bracelet, fag,” says the culprit. His friend chimes in: “The Bible doesn’t approve of fags like you. We don’t want you in our school.”

You may be wondering what kind of school would let this happen. The truth is schools in Tennessee may have to let this kind of bullying happen. A newly proposed bill in the state gives bullies a “loophole” around anti-bullying laws. The proposed bill states that the Tennessee anti-bullying policy should not “infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and shall not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical or political views.” Ultimately, it means that if the bill passes a student can bully another person as long as it’s because of their religious, philosophical or political beliefs.

The bill is pretty obviously targeted at allowing students to be able to bully LGBTQ students because being gay is against their religious or political beliefs. Except there is a big difference between disagreeing with someone’s sexual orientation and blatantly harassing someone for who they are.

We know that there are certain restrictions on the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. “Fighting words” and “hate speech” are not protected by the First Amendment.  The truth is that homophobic remarks are hate speech. The real question is: Should people be able to verbally hurt others because their values are different from someone else’s? The bottom line is that bullying is wrong and cannot be justified and yet there are still people trying to do just that.

Follow updates on this bill at the Tennessee Equality Project Web site.

Photo by Cartoonnetwork.com

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