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‘Douche du Jour’: After Bullying Suicide of Gay Teen Jacob Rogers, Tennessee Bigots Push HB 1153 ‘License to Bully’ Bill to Protect Religious-Based Harassment

It is disgraceful that ‘godly’ conservatives would exploit the bullying death of a gay teenager in order to push for legislation that would protect such bullying, but that’s exactly what some bible-belching bigots down in Tennessee are trying to do.

According to ThinkProgress, the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), a conservative group that preaches intolerance under the guise of “family values,” is trying to exploit the suicide of Jacob Rogers, who was quite literally bullied to death for being gay, in order to promote a piece of legislation that would grant a “license to bully” to anyone who claims religious reasons for doing so.

The proposed bill, HB 1153, was introduced by state Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) last February. It specifically protects students who have unpopular “religious, philosophical or political views,” even if expression of those views amounts to bullying and is disruptive to the classroom. According to the bill:

“Creating a hostile educational environment” shall not be construed to include discomfort and unpleasantness that can accompany the expression of a viewpoint or belief that is unpopular, not shared by other students, or not shared by teachers or school officials.

The policy shall not be construed or interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and shall not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical, or political views; provided, that such expression does not include a threat of physical harm to a student or damage to a student’s property.

In other words, homophobic bullying is just fine, so long as you don’t threaten to beat that faggot to a bloody pulp.

FACT president David Fowler, a rabidly homophobic Christian fundamentalist, blames Jacob Rogers for his own death (citing drug and alcohol abuse as well as an eating disorder), opining that tragic bullying suicides are the result of “the rotten fruit of the all-about-me individualist culture that comes when we deny the existence of God and his image in us.” HB 1153 echoes this disgusting mindset, prohibiting anti-bullying materials or training that “make the characteristics of the victim the focus rather than the conduct of the person engaged in harassment.”

This completely ignores the fact that 9 out of every 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are the victims of anti-gay harassment in school.

In addition to HB 1153, Tennessee lawmakers are also considering a dubious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill that would prevent school officials from providing educational support about LGBT issues. Contrast that with California, where lawmakers passed a measure last year requiring history textbooks used in public schools to include the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans to our national story.

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