Student’s Petition Impacts State Anti-Bullying Bill
As a seventh grader in the Plymouth-Canton school system, junior Katy Butler endured taunts, shoving, intimidation and even a broken finger because of her sexual orientation.
“No one should endure what I went through,” says Butler, who adds that she feels much more accepted at Greenhills thanks to friends, teachers and the Greenhills Gay-Straight Alliance group.
Because of her first-hand experience with bullying, Butler has taken a personal stance against phrasing in an anti-bullying bill currently try to make its way to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. This past spring Butler traveled with 30 other students from Neutral Zone to protest an exemption in the bill for people who say their behavior is founded on a religious or moral conviction. Then this fall she was one of 10 students with Riot Youth (an online LGBT community) to actually speak in front of the Republican-dominated state legislature.
“We weren’t received well at all,” she says with a slow shake of her head.
In fact, they weren’t allowed to perform a skit they had prepared called Gayrilla inside. They instead had to perform it outside under a tent in the rain.
“It was really humiliating,” recalls Butler.
Undaunted, 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.
A small victory occurred two weeks ago when the offensive language was dropped from the bill — but Butler isn’t cheering just yet. She says there’s still some question as to how the final version of the bill will read.
“It’s still a crappy bill,” says Butler. “What we want to see is that everything is spelled out clearly — that no bullying means no bullying.”
Click here to read more of Katy’s personal story and sign the petition.
Click here to watch the Riot Youth’s performance of Gayrilla.
Click here to read recent article about Katy and her impact.