• Petitioned Randy Richardville

This petition was delivered to:

Majority Leader, Michigan State Senate
Randy Richardville
"License to Bully" Bill Sponsor
Rick Jones

Help Michigan Students Stop the "License to Bully" Bill

    1. Katy Butler
    2. Petition by

      Katy Butler

      Ann Arbor, MI

  1.  
  2.   
November 2011

Victory

In early November, Katy Butler and Carson Borbely, two bullied Michigan students, started a petition urging the Michigan legislature to stop the dangerous “license to bully” bill that had passed in the Michigan state senate. As the campaign grew and this controversial bill garnered national attention, the Michigan state house was forced to pass a new anti-bullying bill that lacked an exemption for religious and moral bullying.

On Tuesday, November 29, the Michigan state senate passed the Michigan state house's version of the anti-bullying bill -- which lacked the "license to bully" language -- after more than 50,000 people joined Katy and Carson's popular petition campaign on Change.org.

Unfortunately, the bill also lacked enumeration of the reasons why students are bullied and requirements for schools to report back on how well they're protecting kids -- two provisions that Butler and Borbely assert are necessary to actually protect Michigan students from bullying.

“As students who have been bullied in the past, we know what we need to be protected,” said Butler, a 16-year-old junior at Greenhills High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “While we’re disappointed that the legislature decided to do what was easy instead of doing what was right, Carson and I couldn’t be more proud. This campaign has been about providing a voice for students who suffer every day at school, but haven’t had the opportunity to speak out."

"Our petition helped stop a dangerous bill from becoming law," said Butler. "Next time, we’ll help pass a bill that actually protects students.”

Within a few short weeks, over 50,000 people joined Butler’s and Borbely’s campaign on Change.org, which received coverage from CBS, Yahoo! News, the Detroit News, Michigan Public Radio, and other major news outlets.

It's tough being a student when bullies are allowed to physically and verbally hurt you at school. Unfortunately, because of a dangerous new bill passed by the Michigan State Senate, it's only going to get worse.

On November 2, minutes before voting to pass a new bullying bill, the Michigan State Senate added special language that provides a blueprint for bullies. According to this language, as long as the bullying is done because of "a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction,” then it's ok.

As students, we deserve better. 

I was in 7th grade putting my books in my locker when a few guys game up behind me. They called me a faggot and a dyke and asked me why I even bothered to show my face at school because no one liked me. I ignored them because I was scared of what else they might say and who else they might tell if I stood up to them. I went to shut my locker when an 8th grader pushed me against the wall. I didn’t know what to do so I stood there, alone and afraid. One of his friends slammed my locker shut on my hand breaking my fourth finger. I held back tears while I watched them run away laughing. When I got home I lied to my parents about what happened to my finger because I didn’t want them to tell the school. I was afraid the school would do nothing accept call me out in front of everyone.

My name is Katy Butler, I am now a junior at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor Michigan and I am lesbian. For me, 7th grade was four years ago and writing about that event, even thinking about it, I still tear up. Stopping the "License to Bully" bill and passing real anti-bullying legislation is so important to me because I don’t want anyone else to have to have such strong, painful memories. Being bullied because of something I couldn’t change hurt, but it hurt even more that my school did not do anything about something that they could change.

My story is not unique. Students all across Michigan have stories just like mine. Students like my friend Carson Borbely, who is currently in eighth grade:

"A few weeks ago in class, I brushed a friend's hair away from her face. A loud voice sharply interrupted, 'Don't touch her. Trannies carry diseases.' The teacher didn't do anything. That was the fourth incident in her class that I had been harassed by the same boy. Nothing was done. The only reprimand he got was a sharp calling of his name. The teacher asked him passively to stop. He continued."

Carson and I are speaking out for all those students who suffer every day at school. We're speaking out because we deserve a bill that will actually protect us at school, not make it more dangerous, or give bullies a free pass. People keep telling us youth “It Gets Better”. Well it can’t get better if you don’t make it better. I’m doing my part to help, please do yours.

Please stand with students across the state and sign our petition demanding that the Michigan State Legislature pass a real anti-bullying bill. One that doesn't have special exceptions, but does list the reasons students are bullied most often, and does add reporting requirements. A bill that actually protects students.


Sincerely,

Katy Butler, Michigan high school student
Carson Borbely, Michigan junior high school student

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Michigan students call new anti-bullying bill "weak"

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      In early November, Katy Butler (pictured left) and Carson Borbely, two bullied LGBT  students from Michigan, started a petition urging the Michigan legislature to stop the dangerous “license to bully” bill that had passed in the Michigan state...

    2. Despite outcry, Michigan passes weak bullying bill

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "After several bullied teens in Michigan launched a Change.org petition last month to convince the legislature to rethink the weak bullying bill, Senate sponsor Rick Jones agreed to remove the controversial ‘license to bully’ language. However, the lawmakers refused to add language to the bill explicitly barring harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other criteria."

    3. Senate passes anti-bullying legislation without religious, moral exceptions

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      The experience in Plymouth-Canton was “unbelievably awful,” Butler said. “I didn’t feel safe or included. You have to make students feel included.” The experience taught her why enumeration is important, why a broad anti-bullying policy isn’t enough. “We had ‘No Bullying, No Tolerance’ posters everywhere. It didn’t do anything. A law that’s written the same way will do the same thing.”

    4. WGVU Public Radio Interviews Katy Butler

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "Butler, a 16-year-old junior at Greenhills High School in Ann Arbor was herself a victim of bullying. Within a few short weeks, more than 50 thousand people joined Butler’s and fellow student Carson Borbely’s campaign on Change.org. While disappointed the legislature decided to take what she terms the easy path, Butler is happy with the outcome of the campaign. She says it gives victims of bullying a voice. Butler hopes next time to, in her words, “pass a bill that actually protects students.”

    5. Some students still not pleased with anti-bullying bill

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      WNEM TV-5 covers Katy and Carson's campaign.

    6. Michigan Senate Passes Anti-Bullying Law—Students Still Upset

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "It seemed for awhile that the state was going to pass the law, with one major stipulation—it would have allowed bullying if the one bullying had a religious or moral reason. Well, thankfully, after 50,000 people joined a popular student-led petition campaign on Change.org, the Michigan state senate passed the anti-bullying bill that excluded a controversial exemption."

    7. LANSING: Some students say anti-bullying bill too weak

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "Katy Butler and Carson Borbely, two bullied Michigan students who started the petition, said in a press release they were relieved that the legislature stripped the “license to bully” language. The students said they were disappointed that state lawmakers failed to pass a stronger bill that details the reasons why students are bullied and requires that schools report on how well they are protecting students."

    8. Anti-bullying bill awaiting Snyder's signature draws kudos, criticism

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "As students who have been bullied in the past, we know what we need to be protected," Butler, a 16-year-old junior at Greenhills High School in Ann Arbor, said in the statement. "Unfortunately, the Legislature has chosen to ignore our voices in the debate over a law that directly impacts our lives every day."

    9. Michigan poised to have school anti-bullying law

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      Ann Arbor teens Katy Butler and Carson Borbely lobbied against the law, drawing more than 56,000 signatures to their online petition against the legislation they called a "blueprint for bullies."

    10. Despite Pleas From Students, Mich. Lawmakers Pass Weak Anti-Bullying Bill

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      “While we’re disappointed that the legislature decided to do what was easy instead of doing what was right, Carson and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Butler. “All along, this campaign has been about providing a voice for students who suffer every day at school, but haven’t had the opportunity to speak out. Our petition helped stop a dangerous bill from becoming law. Next time, we’ll help pass a bill that actually protects students.”

    11. Mich. anti-bullying bill passes without exemption

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "Katy Butler and Carson Borbely, two bullied Michigan students who started the petition, said they were relieved that the legislature stripped the "license to bully" language, but were disappointed that state lawmakers failed to pass a stronger bill that enumerates the reasons why students are bullied and requires that schools report back on how well they're protecting kids."

    12. State Education Board member ties schools of choice to bullying

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "Meanwhile, the adults in our state are trying to enact a REAL solution: policies and rules that intend to eliminate bullying, not allow bullies to drive their victims to another school. And by adults, in this case, I'm talking about a 13-year old, Carson Borbely, and a 16-year old, Katy Butler."

    13. Will Michigan legislators give students the anti-bullying law we need?

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      This is a personal appeal to the Michigan state senate by Katy Butler, a 16-year-old student and bully victim from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bullying hurts, it's real, and it can kill. And it's a very serious problem that countless students like me face...

    14. Anti-bully bill debate heats up in Michigan legislature

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      Butler, the 16-year-old who was bullied in middle school, isn't willing to compromise — nor are more than 56,770 people who had signed a petition as of this weekend that Butler posted on www.change.org. The petition asks for a bill that lists the reasons why students are most often bullied. Under a headline that read "Help Michigan Students Stop the 'License to Bully' Bill," Butler wrote: "As students, we deserve better." "I am not unique. Students all across Michigan have stories just like mine."

    15. Michigan students drive change on anti-bullying legislation

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "State Sen. John Gleason (D-Flushing) said the petition is important. 'That's the purest form of democracy,' Gleason said. 'Under the right circumstances, one letter means a lot. One letter can change our mindset and when you have 50,000 that's a very zealous effort.'"

    16. Student's Petition Impacts State Anti-Bullying Bill

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "...Butler and Neutral Zone friend Carson Borbely (an eighth grader who identifies himself as a transgendered male who has also endured bullying) partnered with change.org to create an online petition for people to sign. As of last Thursday, the petition had garnered 53,000+ supporters, an astonishing number that surprises even Butler. 'It's really amazing,' she says with a big grin."

    17. Michigan Students Petition for Stricter Anti-Bullying Legislation

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      Great overview of the campaign and what's at stake in Lansing, published by Yahoo! News:

      "Students Butler and Borbely, who filed the petition understand bullying, they say. Both relate stories of violence and cruelty from fellow students. Borbely, who identifies as a transgender male, agrees with Butler, who explains that without clear wording about no-bullying policies, they feel unprotected. "

    18. Transgender Teen Urges State To Pass Comprehensive Anti-Bullying Bill

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "The petition was started by two Michigan high school students self-identified in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, who say they’ve been “brutally bullied.” Katy Butler and Carson Borbely’s petition urges leaders in the Michigan legislature to approve a comprehensive bill that explicitly lists the reasons students are most often bullied and includes reporting requirements for schools."

    19. Help MI Students!

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      The Make It Better Project promotes Katy and Carson's campaign. Very cool!

    20. Teens' Campaign Against State Anti-Bullying Bill Draws 50,000 Supporters

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      More than 50,000 people have joined the online campaign against Michigan's anti-bullying legislation started by two LGBT teens who say they endured bullying in school.

    21. 50,000 signatures for stronger Michigan anti-bullying law

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      More than 50,000 people have joined the Change.org campaign started by two bullied Michigan LGBT students demanding that the state legislature pass a comprehensive anti-bullying bill that includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

    22. Ann Arbor students attract 50,000-plus to online anti-bullying petition

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      Butler is prepared to keep the issue in front of the public, and she's getting support from Change.org to do that as she urges people to pressure lawmakers to approve legislation that doesn't exclude her or other students who are targeted for attacks based on sexual orientation. "We'll keep going as long as it takes," she said.

    23. Ann Arbor teens create legislative change on MI's "License to Bully" bill

      Mark Anthony Dingbaum
      Petition Organizer

      "I am in awe of this effort by these two teens. The two of them are having a tremendous impact nationally and statewide. Those who work with them describe them as "incredible", "amazing", and "inspiring". They are future leaders and their accomplishment should be lauded."

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Tammy Trott MINTURN, CO
      • almost 3 years ago

      I am trying to move back to Michigan to start a community acupuncture business, and this legislation is clearly slated to make religious and moral zealots immune to our societies standards of appropriate conduct.

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    • Julissa Chacon BLOOMINGDALE, NJ
      • almost 3 years ago

      I'm signing this because no one deserves to be hurt physically or mentally just because bullies have fun doing it. I know that if some little shithead hurts my nephew or niece I really don't know what will I do to that kid. Some people might think that kids need to toughen up but that's not the case, we need to be able to live freely without worrying what can happen to our kids at school :-)

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Rainee Scott BRANDON, MS
      • almost 3 years ago

      Your religious freedom ends at the tip of another human being's nose. You can believe whatever you like, but none of us has the right to inflict our beliefs unwanted on someone else. That's called a theocracy and it's what the right wing has been railing against in the Middle East.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • David Ball BOUNTIFUL, UT
      • almost 3 years ago

      To me, agressive bullying, be it verbal or physical, is just as telling a sign of mental mal-adjustment as the pre-serial killer actions of torturing and killing small animals. It show's lack of empathy or compassion on an even greater scale, as the targets are human beings and not even the fear of reprimand or punishment deters them from their antisocial behavior.

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      • almost 3 years ago

      Everyone is entitled to their religious belief as long as they do not impose those beliefs on others. To place moral conviction and bullying in the same statement is utterly ridiculous. It is absolutely irresponsible and socially immoral to allow any form of bullying. This bill impedes on preexisting laws that protect individuals from physical harm and goes well beyond the limits of free speech.

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