Mark Leno's Bully Bill Mill

DEC. 16, 2010

With California in the middle of the most devastating financial crisis in state history, Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has introduced a bill purportedly aimed at stopping bullying in schools. But some are asking if it’s merely a deflection attempt away from the state’s crumbling financial structure, or another attempt by the senator to alter how history is taught in public schools.

Leno’s bill, SB 48, adds sexual orientation to the state’s existing anti-discrimination protections that prohibit bias in school activities, instruction and instructional materials. It also includes the roles and contributions of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Americans in educational materials. But school districts already have special protections, provisions and policy for LGBT students, leading many to question the veracity of the “bullying” verbiage in the bill.

If the intent of Leno’s bill was really about bullying, the focus would be on the outcome of the bullying and not on the individual characteristics of the victims. In a statement on the senator’s website, Carolyn Laub, Gay Straight Alliance Network’s Executive Director, said, “LGBT youth are denied a fair education when they are exposed to harmful stereotypes in classroom materials and are excluded from learning about their history.”

Leno has received plenty of special-interest support for his agenda-driven legislation. Equality California, which “works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people” through legislation sponsorship and lobbying efforts, touts success in passing California legislation: “In the past decade, Equality California has successfully passed more than 70 pieces of civil rights legislation for the LGBT community – more than any other statewide LGBT organization in the nation.”

With 70 pieces of civil rights legislation already passed for the LGBT community, why does California need one more?

No one graduates childhood without being bullied. Picking on each other is often how kids define the pecking order as they mature. And they pick on and tease friends and classmates for ridiculous reasons – for being too fat, too thin, having zits, nose picking, awkwardness, lack of coordination, wearing glasses or braces, being Jewish or Catholic, Muslim or Buddhist, nail-biting, being foreign or from the back-woods, wearing hand-me-downs, being bookish or dumb, joining the marching band, school orchestra or ROTC or even, yes, being too effeminate or too masculine. But mostly, kids tease and pick because of their own inadequacies while trying to discover where they fit in.

At the real heart of the bullying issue is that school officials aren’t doing an adequate job of differentiating between teasing and bullying, or putting an immediate end to bullying when it occurs. Instead, school districts have created zero-tolerance LGBT policies demonstrating just how bullying is a political hot button.

But many parents are concerned with school administrators’ overreactions to any teasing or joking surrounding sexuality or gender. One parent recently shared the story of his child’s suspension involving horseplay the boy was only remotely involved in – the child actually responsible for muttering the improper sexual epithet was suspended for five days.  But if he had called another child “stupid” or “ugly,” chances are that there would have been no punishment.

More interesting is that Leno’s bill is just one of many around the country seeking to introduce additional LGBT education into schools, part of an apparently well-organized nationwide effort. New Jersey recently passed the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, sponsored by the Garden State Equality, a LGBT advocacy group. Washington State has anti-bullying laws; the District of Columbia is trying to adopt them as well. But Missouri chose to adopt a gender-neutral anti-bullying law, in an attempt to keep the issue sincerely about the act of bullying.

States have been adopting anti-bullying laws since 1999, but some bill versions are being pushed by civil rights groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), to segment out special protections for the LGBT community.

In California, the rate of children failing and dropping out of public schools is already high, and in some schools, stands at 50 percent. Legislators need to stop introducing bills that distract from teaching the curriculum needed for children to either attend college or get a job after graduating from high school. Social issues should be left to families to address. California’s plummeting economic climate and declining public schools should be receiving legislators’ rapt attention instead of social fixes and parental meddling.

“Leno’s target is not school safety but rather the schools’ curriculum, altering social sciences from kindergarten to 12th grade,” said Karen England, Executive Director for the pro-family Capitol Resource Institute. “SB 48 in no way, shape, or form addresses bullying. Instead it is obviously another attempt to infiltrate the school system and forcibly indoctrinate children as young as five years of age on the LGBT community.”

Leno’s office did not respond to repeated calls for comment by press time.

-Katy Grimes

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  1. Sean
    Sean 19 December, 2010, 23:48

    The public schools are already too busy teaching everything but the basics and trying so hard not to hurt anyone’s feeling as well as making sure the traditions of our culture are washed away with the talk of happy winter solstice and secret snowflake gifts.

    This state is imploding under the weight of all its laws and regulations….I know they make people feel good, but perhaps we should focus on getting our economy back in order….

    Reply this comment
  2. John Seiler
    John Seiler 21 December, 2010, 19:44

    Another reason to entirely abolish government schools and truancy laws, and return the money wasted to taxpayers. Give Moms and Pops back their own tax money and let them teach their children well — however they wish.

    Reply this comment
  3. antonio caetano
    antonio caetano 29 December, 2010, 19:27

    The Pope calls homosexuals intrinsically disordered. That sounds pretty bad to me. I don’t believe they are disordered any more or differently than anyone else. Yet that stain of being no good in God’s eyes feeds the poor souls whose own lives are so bleak, they find, I suppose, some relief that some other human is lower than them.
    Because the majority tends to go along with that and our children have become rabid with bullying (not teasing)–I read of a girl who had her clothing seized during gym class and while she stood there in gym clothes, her fellow students urinated on her school clothes. That sort of evil reminds me of the Salem witch trials. Lets give Mr Leno a chance unless someone else has a better and very specific plan. The research (what ever that is) does show that including the history and contributions of members of a group tends to diffuse/lessen the acrimony etc visited on them. After all we already do what Leno wants to every other group one can think of. I’d have no objection letting students know the contributions that fat people have made–it could be a one liner, “President Harding, by the way, tended to obesity.” Is that so hard or bad.

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  4. Michael Mayo
    Michael Mayo 6 January, 2011, 08:54

    give leno a chance???

    does anyone have any idea that when they elected leno, that now we are paying several hundred thousand dollars a year for him to sit there in some office thinking of ways ways to shove gay rights down all the taxpayers throats – including the ones who side with the pope?? mark leno is a waste of taxpayer dollars. deep inside you all know I’m correct; even you gays.

    Reply this comment

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