December 20, 2011

What Did Jesus Do?

Answering Religious Conservatives Who Oppose Bullying Prevention Legislation

Daniel B. Weddle and student Kathryn E. New, University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law
 New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement, Vol. 37, p. 325, 2011

Conservative Christian organizations assert that anti-bullying programs are a stealth effort by gay activists to introduce into American schools an aggressive lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) agenda. They contend that legislation and bullying prevention programs that mention gays are an attempt to indoctrinate children to embrace homosexual lifestyles; tolerate homosexual behavior; and celebrate homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender identity.

These voices are having an impact on state legislatures and the damage is immense. Educational research has made clear the devastating effects of bullying upon children, and LGBT students are among the most often targeted and least protected students. Given that schools are already failing to address bullying effectively, efforts to thwart protection of any group of students -- especially one that is routinely targeted -- is unconscionable.

Yet these devoted Christians zealously interfere with protection of LGBT students from abuse by their peers and believe wholeheartedly that they are doing children and Christ a great service.

We believe they fundamentally misunderstand three things: the dynamics of bullying, the law pertaining to student-on-student abuse, and the example and teachings of Christ. This Article addresses these misunderstandings. We propose a response to the distortions that are used to promote what is an anti-gay agenda that represents neither the teachings of the Bible nor the position of most Christians and evangelicals, whom these organizations purport to represent.

Our hope is that, once the distortions are debunked, thinking Christians will reject the misguided efforts of a relatively few but influential individuals and organizations. If new voices can confront the misleading claims of anti-gay zealots with informed educational, legal, and Biblical responses, perhaps the distortions will be seen for what they are by Christians and non-Christians alike.