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Religious Change To Anti-Bullying Legislation?

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – State House Republicans appear ready to change anti-bullying legislation that was sharply criticized when it recently passed the Senate.

WWJ’s Tim Skubick reports that a religious exemption clause within proposed anti-bullying legislation is back under the spotlight as it makes its way through Lansing.

The clause would protect the “religious beliefs or moral convictions” of students accused of bullying, which some believe could allow Christians to bully gay students.

The legislation would require schools to adopt policies aimed at cracking down on bullying and harassment of students. But the legislation as it passed the Republican-led Senate last week “does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” of a student or school employee.

Senator Gretchen Whitner’s passionate speech denouncing the legislation for “legitimizing excuses for tormenting a student” has gotten over 100,000 hits on YouTube so far. See the video below.

But as it moves forward,  Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger said through a spokesperson that any excuses for bullying would be eliminated from this bill. Democrats say that clause offers a blueprint for getting away with bullying in schools, with Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan calling the Senate bill a “joke.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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