Message from Equality Michigan concerning SB 137 (“Matt’s Safe Schools Act”)

As you know, the Michigan Senate just passed a weak anti-bullying bill along party lines that actually condones bullying based on “moral convictions.” Senate Republicans have effectively created a license to bully instead of taking action to keep our kids safe. Today’s debate and vote in Lansing clearly signals that right-wing conservatives are unwilling to do what’s right for our state.

Senate Bill 137 now goes to the Michigan House Education Committee. The first hearing for the bill is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday morning. We’re still waiting to hear the time and location of that meeting, but we need your help to keep the conversation going with House Representatives. Our House Representatives were elected to advocate for all of their constituents, even those who can’t vote — children.

Please call one or more of the Representatives on the committee (before Wednesday morning) and ask them to:

1. Remove the offensive and unnecessary license to bully based on religious beliefs
2. Add comprehensive enumerated language that the Governor called for
3. Pass an effective law right away

Phone numbers are below. We will let you know when the hearing time and location is announced so that you have the opportunity to give a public comment.

Thank you for standing up to keep our kids safe,

Emily Dievendorf
Director of Policy

The members of the Michigan House Education Committee, as provided by Equality Michigan, are as follows. You can also find them listed here on the Michigan House website.

  • Paul Scott (R), Committee Chair, 51st Disctrict – (517) 373-1780
  • Thomas B. Hooker (R), Majority Vice-Chair, 77th District – (517) 373-2277
  • Hugh D. Crawford (R), 38th District – (517) 373-0827
  • Tom McMillin (R), 45th District – (517) 373-1773
  • Ray A. Franz (R), 101st District – (517) 373-0825
  • Kurt Heise (R), 20th District – (517) 373-3816
  • Holly Hughes (R), 91st District – (517) 373-3436
  • Aric Nesbitt (R), 80th District – (517) 373-0839
  • Margaret E. O’Brien (R), 61st District – (517) 373-1774
  • Amanda Price (R), 89th Distrct – (517) 373-0838
  • Deb Lynn Shaughnessy (R), 71st District – (517) 373-0853
  • Ken Yonker (R), 72nd District – (517) 373-0840
  • Lisa Brown (D), Minority Vice-Chair, 39th District – (517) 373-1799
  • George T. Darany (D), 15th District – (517) 373-0847
  • Lisa Howze (D), 2nd District – (517) 373-0106
  • Rudy Hobbs (D), 35th District – (517) 373-1788
  • David Rutledge (D), 54th District – (517) 373-1771
  • Thomas Stallworth III (D), 8th District – (517) 373-2276
  • Douglas A. Geiss (D), 22nd District – (517) 373-0852

Equality Michigan also provides the following tips for talking with legislators:

You may use the following points when you make your call:

I ask the Representative to show his/her commitment to protecting Michigan students by eliminating the license to bully based on religious beliefs, adding enumeration, and adding reporting requirements to Senate Bill 137.

I am a student (or parent, educator, Michigan resident, etc.) who cares about safe schools. I’m calling today to thank the Representative for his/her leadership on the issue of school safety and ask him to include reporting provisions and specific protected categories in Senate Bill 137.

Listing categories of students that are specifically protected by the law protects ALL students, not just those listed. Of course the bill should protect all students, but listing categories will let educators and students know frequently overlooked groups of students should be protected.

Students in schools with these policies report less bullying and harassment, are more likely to report feeling safe at school, and are three times less likely to skip a class because they feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Listing specific categories is necessary to make the bill effective. Research shows that students in states without enumeration have the same experience of bullying as students who live in states without any anti-bullying and harassment laws at all.

Reporting language is necessary to allow Michigan to determine the scope of the bullying problem and develop programs that effectively address it. This will help create real accountability for school districts.

Thank the staff member for their time.

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