Teens who bully other LGBT youth for religious reasons could be protected. The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) is trying to push a bill many LGBT advocates are calling “License to Bully” in legislative session. According to ThinkProgress.org, the bill protects anyone who harasses or torments LGBT people from behind the Bible or in politics. The bill was introduced last year but was held off. FACT decided to reignite the bill after the suicide of Jacob Rogers, a Tennesse youth who took his life last December after being subjected to years of anti-gay remarks and torture. The Huffinton Post reports FACT’s December newsletter states it hopes “to make sure the law protects the religious liberty and free speech rights of students who want to express their views on homosexuality.”
Family Action Council President David Fowler added that “the purpose is to stop bullying, not create special classes of people who are more important to others.” But several LGBT activist are not buying this and believe the protection of religious, anti-gay bullies came after Jacob Rogers’ death. Tennessee Equality Project official Chris Sanders told local Tennessee news channel WSMV the following:
“This kind of legislation can send a message that it’s okay to hate and we’ll even give you religious sanction for it. What if one student calls another a sinner, or a sodomite or says you’re perverted or you’re unnatural or you are going to hell? That’s where it gets really dicey.”
As for David Fowler’s feelings on Jacob Rogers’ death, he blames it on Rogers’ alleged struggles with drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder, according to the Nashville Scene. He never once mentioned the years of heartache Rogers had to endure at the hand of anti-gay bullying.
GaySocialites will keep you up to date on this story as it developes and we invite you to share your comments below.