Bully Bill Battle

Is Mark White feeling heat from the right?

Definitions are not the enemy.

As session lumbers on, most of the goofy distraction bills have either been passed, or passed up. Its time to take a look at some of the things we missed while we were being distracted, and bills that are coming up.

One of those issues is addressing the problem of bullying in a substantive way.

There are two competing bills before the General Assembly that are currently moving: HB 927 sponsored in the House by Karen Camper of Memphis, and HB 2122 sponsored in the House by Mark White of Memphis.

While both bills seek to address the issue of bullying…one does so in a much more specific and effective way.

Just a quick look at the summary for 927 vs. 2122, shows the difference between a bill that seeks to enumerate what bullying is, rather than dress up current (an ineffective) law with a bow and sending it on its way.

Below is a piece Lauren Lee from Fox13 in Memphis did on the bill. At the end is an interview with Michelle Bliss, who carefully deconstructs the differences between the two bills.

Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

For Rep. White to say, “If you define that bullying is someone’s expression of their sexual or gender identity, their perceived identity, then you set up a situation where, it may not be bullying to another person, they just have a different set of standards.” is disingenuous. The law defines all manner of undesirable activity in specific, sometimes graphic detail. We do this to ensure that individuals who engage in such undesirable activity can be held accountable for their actions.

By removing the specific language that defines what bullying is, and who the likely targets are, Rep. White is minimizing the issue, and placing thousands of children at risk, all for the sake of someone’s “different set of standards”. Taken to its logical conclusion, any manner of activities, from speeding to assault, or even more heinous violent crime could fall under that “different set of standards” that Rep. White seems to hold so dear, making prosecution of these crimes essentially impossible.

Rep. White’s decision to leave these definitions out of his bill means the current hodge podge of policy will continue, without any clarity or consistency, which also means it will not reduce or enact any real change.

In the end, his bill amounts to passing legislation for the sake of saying you’ve passed legislation on a hot topic isn’t what we send our legislators to Nashville to do. We expect them to make laws that will truly address the problems we face.

Contact Representative Mark White at rep.mark.white@capitol.tn.gov and ask him to support HB 927. Post your email to Facebook and Twitter and tag Tennessee Equality Project and State Representative Mark White in the post.

If you need help with an email, check out this post from TEP, its a good guide. Also check out http://www.stopbullying.gov.

If we want to protect our children from bullying, we have to have clear and consistent guidelines for what bullying is…not some mushy nondescript standard.

You can also email the members of the House Education Committee in support of HB 927. Their email addresses can be found here.

HB 927 is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday at 3pm. HB 2122 is scheduled for the Education Committee on Tuesday at noon.




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