Illinois State Senate Doesn’t Pass Bullying Measure, Because It Might Encourage Homosexuality

One of the only potentially positive things to come out of the epidemic of young kids, many of them gay, committing suicide across the country is that virtually everyone can agree that unsafe school environments for kids are unacceptable. There’s still plenty of disagreement about how schools should be made safe, but children’s well-being is something we can all prioritize.

Unfortunately, “virtually everyone” isn’t actually everyone, a fact which the Illinois state Senate proved this week when they voted down a measure that would have worked to create and specify anti-bullying codes of conduct in schools. Frustratingly, the bill seems to have been halted by outrageous rhetoric that equates protecting students in schools with somehow promoting or “indoctrinating” homosexuality. Senator Kyle McCarter warned that “There are some programs that are not just against bullying in general. Some of them tend to have an agenda of being pro-homosexual,” and it appears that the state Senate took his words seriously. Proponents of the bill pointed out that it includes specific language aimed at freedom of speech and religion, and attempted to patiently explain to detractors that including a choice to “opt out,” like some schools do for health class, didn’t make any sense because it wasn’t a specific program that students had to attend, and there was therefore nothing to opt out of.

The measure needed 30 votes to pass, and only received 29. It’s also worth noting that some known supporters of the bill were absent, so a vote taken later on may turn out differently. Regardless, though, it’s frustrating that a bill which should have benefited all Illinois students is being roadblocked because some politicians have ridiculous and baseless ideas about gay students, and what support of them might represent.

The fact is that while the heartrending phenomenon of bullying and the related phenomenon of suicide are often associated with gay youth, there’s nothing gay about trying to make sure kids are okay. In fact, if we’re being factual, it’s not even so much “gay bullying” as “perceived-as-gay bullying;” one of the first tragic casualties of the youth suicide epidemic was Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who hanged himself at age 11.  Carl didn’t identify as gay, as far as anyone who survived him knew. He was on the football team. But he was taunted by classmates using anti-gay slurs, and he’s now dead.

Combating bullying and anti-gay sentiment doesn’t constitute an approval of any kind of sexual activity; it recognizes that social castigation of people (or kids) who don’t comply with norms of gender performance or perceived sexual orientation is particularly vicious and dangerous, and works to prevent that for the sake of childrens’ lives. Opposing that work because of an outdated sense of sexual conservatism is both rhetorically meaningless and actively harmful to a group of people that genuinely needs support and protection. The lives of gay kids are just as important and worthwhile as the lives of straight kids, but even beyond that, “gay bullying” doesn’t just affect gay kids, it affects all kids. Strict policing of gender and sexuality hurts everyone, and when children are involved, there’s no excuse for pontificating about our own fears and hangups instead of focusing on their needs.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 761 articles for us.

24 Comments

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    This is extremely frustrating.. Sometimes I wish I could go under cover and listen to a bunch of anti-gay folk talk about their anti-gay feelings, because maybe they make more sense than they do in situations like this vote.

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        I second that. Growing up, my entire family, my church and my school all vehemently condemned same-sex relationships, and I still turned out gay. I think measures like this that normalize homosexuality do ‘encourage’ it to some degree. By encourage, I mean not guilt and terrorize people into suppressing a vital part of themselves.

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    Dear websiteer, what we do not realize is that without The Lord Jesus Himself (without doctrine or person or group) we will never know what True Love really and acceptance means. Being free to do what we want doesn’t make us free, to be free use drugs makes one an addict, nothing free about that. Jesus loves you and has been the only One that proved His Love.

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      Dear Benru,

      Do you not find that knowledge of Love (that is, of God Himself), leads you to a greater love of those around you? Is not the True Love of Christ a calling that produces an outpouring of the fruit of the Spirit in your life? “By their fruits you shall know them”, yes? Then, I will explain to you my belief that what I have seen and witnessed here at Autostraddle is an expression of freedom, and not one of sin. I have known drug addicts personally- my brother once was one. I think you and I can agree that drug addiction is a form of enslavement to material things that draws one away from God’s Love, and thus a sin. Always, the actively addicted drug addicts I have known and met have been people who cared more about things than loved ones, and who are very lost. This has not been so in my knowledge of gay, bisexual, or transgendered people. I have met gay couples that are active in their churches; giving, loving people working together for the Lord after 10 or 20+ years together (and not celibate). Moreover, I have found that this is not an exception to the rule, but rather, a large percentage of the gay couples I have known. I urge you, Benru, to read some of the articles on this website and see what they really promote (yes, there are some I disagree with, which is to be expected), because I think more often than not, you will find that they truly do seek to advocate for the good of their community and of everyone. I do not think that this is a sin.

      The peace of our Lord be always with you.

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      I’m a Cristian. I’m a transsexual. I’m a Lesbian. God keeps giving me encouragement whenever I ask what I should do or am in doubt. I asked for someone to love and fell in love with a woman shortly thereafter. I think God is cool with it and even intended for me to have this sort of life.

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    Even from their perspective, shooting down an anti-bullying measure because it might promote homosexuality (and I don’t know about you guys, but I was totally turned trans and lesbian by tangentially-related legislation)is kind of like sawing your children’s feet off to keep them from getting toe jam. There is no sense in which the idea to block it on this ground is a sane and rational decision.

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    Pro-homosexual??? WTF, because people want gay teens to be safe and not feel like a piece of shit it’s pro-homosexual? What happened to pro-human fucking being? They act as though gay people are some kind of “other” which is a big issue. I don’t think intolerance of homophobia is pro-homosexual, it’s called respect and decency. When will people stop separating us from each other? We’re more alike than different in so many ways. Spread love not hate and discrimination!

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    The Illinois Family Institute also strongly opposes abortion. But apparently its reverence for the life of a child does not extend outside of the womb. Ironically, the Institute’s anti-abortion mantra “it’s a child not a choice” would be aptly suited to the bullying issue, but of course they would never see that…
    In an Institute article by Laurie Higgins about why the bill MUST BE STOPPED, she writes:
    “Some will take offense at my comparison of homosexuality to polyamory or adult consensual incest because — they argue — those conditions are immoral and homosexuality is not. But that is precisely the unsettled debate. The moral beliefs of homosexuals and their ideological allies who oppressively control public schools are just that: beliefs, assumptions, moral propositions — not facts.”
    First, in the sentence starting “The moral beliefs of homosexuals…”, if you insert the word “Christian” for “homosexuals,” she has a point.
    Second, it is a FACT that gay bullying has led to suicides throughout the country. That is neither a belief, an assumption nor a moral proposition. By re-framing the issue as a moral one (and making absurd comparisons to promiscuity, incest and polyamory along the way)the Family institute once again demonstrated its utter lameness. If Christian kids were being bullied for their religious beliefs and offing themselves across the country, I do not believe Ms. Higgins would object to programs designed to protect said children. The issue is safety not religion.

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    Hi There, thanks for your replies!

    Firstly I am very happy that we can be reasoning together in this way. Not that I even would like to think of this as a debate but that we may voice our opinions and come to that which will bring true happiness in our search for truth and meaning in times of perplexity.

    In view of the very fact that we have to deal with the souls of people makes me cautious and sensitive to the point that it makes me to search deeply for appropriate, sincere and liberating lines of thought that will bring about hope for those who truly feel alone and misunderstood.

    To be able to comprehensively grasp and get a hold on something as intricate as human behaviour with an aim to understand conclusively what man’s deep need encompasses; we must be honest with ourselves.

    Borris Becker a famous tennis player who suffered from thoughts of suicide was asked whether he still had those tendencies after reaching the very pinnacle of his career, successfully. His reply was…; “Yes ”

    Henry Ford, being one of the richest men of his time, was asked if there was still something else or more he wanted out of life. His answer: “Just to make one dollar more.”

    The reason why suicide is more prevalent amongst the rich is the very truth that we have to consider with regards to “fulfilment”. When they reached the very pinnacle of their careers,lives and sexuality they found it to be totally devoid of what they where looking for, ie. Inner peace, a deep heartfelt joy, a sense of belonging but instead found the opposite to be true.

    I would like to ask the question without sounding judgmental or offensive : “Why commit suicide if the homosexual lifestyle is the Very Answer which infuses True life, joy, peace, love and understanding ?

    There is no one that can truly give a sense of acceptance, love, understanding and caring friendship as The Lord Jesus. Jesus is The very Emblem of Love, He gave Himself to us completely. He showed us what it is to love someone, He unselfishly gave His life for you and me.

    As you have explored alternative lifestyles to “the full ” that only left you unfulfilled, empty, lonely and full of resentment. Why don’t you give Jesus an opportunity by committing yourself to Him. Taste and see that Lord is good. Put God to the Test if He is not actually the True Fulfilment you have been longing for…

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