Sunday, May 10, 2009
Should Disabled Students Be Protected from Bullying? Focus on the Family Says No
Minnesota has introduced anti-bullying legislation that would cover students with disabilities. The bill covers "actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical characteristics, and association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics." It would also cover electronic forms of bullying.
Not surprisingly, a study by the Medical University of South Carolina found that students with disabilities are left out and bullied more than other children.
Writing in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a special ed professional George Griffiths has an insightful perspective on students' acceptance (and non-acceptance) of students with disabilities. "I don’t have any illusion that simply passing the Safe Schools for All legislation will magically stop bullying in Minnesota classrooms," Griffiths writes. "But the legislation sets a standard. And by specifically listing disability along with other attributes, such as sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, and physical characteristics, the legislation makes plain that, when it comes to bullying, absolutely no exceptions should ever be tolerated."
Who would oppose anti-bullying legislation, you ask? Try the right-wing Christian organization Focus on the Family. The Minnesota Family Council, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, is openly opposing the legislation, saying, "We believe this will open the door to promoting a certain social agenda." Read the official national position for yourself on Focus on the Family's own website: "We do not support special 'safe school' and anti-bullying legislation because of the way it opens the door to advance an aggressive, pro-homosexual agenda in public school classrooms."
See also "10 Years After Columbine, Focus on the Family Opposes Anti-Bullying Programs."