In the Des Moines Register today (ok, looking at the time, yesterday), “Senate Oks Bullying Bill; it now heads to House”. I blogged on this last Friday. I contacted my State Senator, Dick Dearden (D-34). He replied:

Thank you for your e-mail. I appreciate hearing from constituents

The bill includes all students but the enumeration is important: The legislation protects “all” students with the phrase “includes but is not limited to” prior to the list of characteristics and traits. The bill does list or enumerate groups that have historically and currently been the subject of bullying harassment.

1- The enumeration list includes groups that have not been protected, that have been historically the most frequently harassed.

2- The list provides guidance to the schools, but also helps make sure that schools do not leave out these groups when it develops its policy.

3- Schools can develop policies, or list characteristics, that go beyond these lists, depending upon what their local experience has been. The strength of the bill allows schools to include such protections if it feels these have been issues at the local community.

SF 61 protects all children from bullying.
Senator Dearden

Ho hum, form e-mail, my wife received the same one. I sent a reply to him:

Senator Dearden,

Thank you for your response. I must respectfully disagree with your position. Having 15 years of professional youth work experience under my belt I do not see the value of spelling out specific characteristics in anti-bullying legislation or policies for that matter. I’ve counseled students who have been victims of bullies who do not fall into any of the special categories that this piece of legislation lists. One young man whom I have in mind was Caucasian and comes from an upper middle class family. Actually the great majority of victims of bullying (and I have worked with a great diversity of students) that I have worked with; have been bullied due to a physical trait (weight, acne, etc.) or personality trait (poor social skills and the like).

I maintained, when I was in school administration and with other youth organizations that I have worked in, a no-bullying policy that was strictly enforced. I have zero tolerance for it – simply because kids need to be treated with dignity regardless of their background. All harassment is wrong, because a person is of a different race, gender, or sexual orientation doesn’t make harassment more wrong.

Senator Nancy Boetteger had plans to offer an amendment that would make bullying inappropriate for all children. That amendment or one like can and should have bipartisan support. I am disappointed to see that you are missing the opportunity for great bipartisan legislation. Because if you pass an anti-bullying bill, it shouldn’t matter if you list specific groups – all kids will be protected. Most Iowans will see SF 61 for what it really is, special rights for homosexuals – partisan politics. Senator Dearden, please rise above this.

Any, I just want to encourage you to contact your representative, and then like Govenor Chet Culver if needed.

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