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ONLY ONE MOMMY — The problem with modern anti-bullying laws

January 17, 2011
From Liberty Counsel attorney Rena M. Lindevaldsen’s new blog, Only One Mommy:

The problem with modern anti-bullying laws

A few days ago NJ Gov. Chris Christie signed into law the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which many are heralding as the toughest anti-bullying law in the nation. Having lived through my middle and high school years, I am absolutely a proponent of strong anti-harassment policies. However, I am just as vehemently opposed to the modern anti-bullying laws that serve as a tool to indoctrinate our youth with the message that identifying as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning) is healthy and normal.

When I went to school everyone knew that it was wrong to harass other students. We didn’t have a list of prohibited categories or categories that deserved special attention – all harassment and bullying was wrong. Modern anti-bullying laws, however, contain lists of characteristics for which we should not bully or harass. Granted, the lists state that they are not meant to be exhaustive but still, there are reasons behind the decision of who “makes the cut” to get onto the list.

For example, NJ’s law prohibits “harassment, intimidation or bullying” that is “reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory handicap disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic . . . .”

Even a quick read reminds me of the childhood game – which of these are not like the others.

Most are things you cannot change: race, color, ancestry, national origin, or some sort of handicap disability. While a person can change her religion, it’s a category that is specifically protected by the first amendment to the constitution and thus earns its rightful place in the list.

That leaves “gender,” “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity and expression.” Most of us would agree that gender cannot be changed, although there is a growing movement that believes gender can change through use of hormones and drastic, costly surgeries (a topic I’ll save for another day). Thus, I’m putting gender in the group of characteristics that cannot change.

Now we are left with “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression.” Let me briefly share three reasons why those categories should not be included in anti-bullying laws. Again, I do not believe anyone should be bullied or harassed. My issue is with the agenda-driven decision to place “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” in the laws.

First, the terms are a moving target. Even homosexual publications that discuss the issue admit that one’s sexual orientation and gender identity are “fluid” and exist on a “continuum.” They also readily admit that there is no “gay gene” – in other words, you aren’t born that way. That makes their inclusion in the anti-bullying laws out of place.

Second, the modern bullying laws are used by leading homosexual activist organizations (e.g., GLSEN, LAMBDA Legal, PFLAG), the NEA (National Education Association), and Planned Parenthood to mandate tolerance and diversity training in schools. The training includes the message that people are born gay, cannot change, and that it’s perfectly healthy and normal to engage in same-sex sexual activity. The problems with that are at least twofold: first, it’s not true – you are not born gay and you can change your sexual preferences; second, it’s not healthy to engage in same-sex sexual activities.

Third, the NJ act defines harassment and bullying to include conduct that interferes with the rights of other students and that “a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student.” For those with religious beliefs that any sexual conduct outside the man-woman marriage relationship is sinful, this one is meant to silence you. I have two quick examples to make my point. In the recent Prop 8 decision (federal court decision declaring California’s marriage laws unconstitutional), the judge found as a matter of fact that: “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.” Perry v. Schwarzenegger (C.D. Cal. 2010) (Finding of Fact No. 77).

The Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation similarly stated that “prejudices directed at individuals because of their religious beliefs and prejudices derived from or justified by religion are harmful to individuals, society, and international relations.” (p. 19).

In other words, God’s standard for human sexuality is harmful. It’s not hard to imagine that a student who seeks to share God’s message of Truth and hope with someone struggling with same-sex attractions will find himself subject to punishment under NJ’s recent law.

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