When Katy Butler was in junior high, bullies who called her a “dyke” slammed a locker door on her hand. Katy never reported the assault because she was afraid her school wouldn’t do anything to help.

If the Michigan state Senate has its way, Katy’s school won’t have to help students bullied in the future, either.

Last week, the Michigan state Senate passed an anti-bullying bill. But minutes before they voted, Republican lawmakers inserted special language into the bill to create a huge loophole: Bullying done because of a “sincerely held religious or moral conviction” isn’t covered by the law.

Rather than protecting students, the new law actually provides a road map that teaches kids how to bully — and how to get away with it.

Katy and her friend Carson Borbely know what it’s like to be bullied for who they are. They started a petition demanding that the state legislature enact a strong anti-bullying law with no exceptions. Click here to sign their petition.

The Michigan House of Representatives will consider the Senate’s weak anti-bullying bill soon. Katy and Carson want them to strengthen the bill and eliminate the religious exemption inserted by the state Senate, and members are rallying around their demand.

Some legislators are wavering in the face of public outrage, and Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger is now said to be considering a stronger, more comprehensive version of the bill. But Katy and Carson need your help to keep up the pressure.

Please sign Katy and Carson’s petition demanding the Michigan House of Representatives pass an anti-bullying law that will actually protect students:

Thanks for being a change-maker,


  1. Actually what happened to Katy WOULD be considered bullying under the exact phrasing of that law. You say the law allows bullying based on religious beliefs. It does not. It allows for people to state what they believe, whether it offends people or not, if it is a sincerely held religious or moral belief. That does not mean it allows violence of any kind, assault, etc. because of those beliefs. Protecting the 1st amendment will always be just as important as preventing bullying. I may disagree with someone’s belief that homosexuality (or anything else) is wrong, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to speak their mind. That is not bullying.

    Also note, this says a “statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” a STATEMENT. There is a large difference between stating what you feel and actually threatening someone. So that is still not allowed by the phrasing of this law.

    (8) This section does not abridge the rights under the First Amendment of the constitution of the United States or under article I of the state constitution of 1963 of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian. This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian.

    Did you actually read the law, or did you just go by what told you?
    Here’s the law, if you haven’t read it.

    1. You miss the point that verbal abuse is just as bad, and many times worse, than physical abuse. Abuse of any kind is unacceptable. I’m all for free speech. If I choose to be in a conversation or debate or if I’m just walking down the street, I accept that I may hear views that offend me. I’m perfectly good with that. But it’s not OK to hurl your views at me with the intent to cause emotional harm or to degrade me. Using the current “hot button” example of gay marriage, there is a world of difference between “I wouldn’t choose this life style for myself” and “You are an abomination before God”. One is free speech, one is an attack.

      I have a hard time wrapping my head around the need for any of this to actually be specifically stated. I live my life by a very simple concept. I treat others the way in which I would like them to treat me. Since I wouldn’t want anyone to abuse me verbally, I don’t do it to others – even if I disagree with them, even if I’m angry with them. This isn’t about first amendment rights, it’s about civility, which is currently sorely lacking in our society.

      I’m sure that never in their wildest dreams did our founding fathers think it would be necessary to write into the Bill of Rights: “By the way, while exercising your rights to free speech – don’t abuse the privilege by using it to abuse each other. That’s not what we meant, and that’s not OK.”

      1. The Supreme Court has decided that the first amendment is more important than civility. They supported that when the Westboro Baptist Church case came before the court.

        Look, I’m not saying that a student who feels offended shouldn’t address that in the appropriate setting, even engaging the student who believes that being gay is wrong in a debate about the topic. However a student should not be punished for stating something they believe.

        And yes, there is a difference between stating what you believe (doesn’t matter how you say it, whether it’s “I wouldn’t choose this life style for myself” or “You are an abomination before God”) and actually cornering someone and emotionally or verbally harassing them because of what you believe. Saying you disagree with homosexuality or believe it’s an abomination is distinctly different from harassing a person personally about it.

        Statement of a belief /=/ harassment

        Unless of course you are intent on taking everything personally. I grew up in the Bible Belt as a lesbian. I learned that you can’t take everyone’s beliefs personally. The fact that they disagree with you or don’t like you is not something to get angry with them about unless they start to harass you because of their beliefs.

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