Tuesday afternoon, Minnesota state senators and advocates gathered at the State Capitol to hear details of a proposed new anti-bullying law that would beef up the state's vague bullying laws.
The bill, written by Southwest Minneapolis' Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-61) and Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-63A) would require the state Department of Education to track and publish bullying data alongside the academic data it already collects. The bill would also require individual districts to have anti-bullying policies that protect students based on disability and sexual orientation, among others—current law only covers bullying based on sex, race, and religion.
The bill includes religious and free speech protections and offers districts training resources to implement the law.
Anti-bullying advocates and teacher groups widely praised the bill in recent testimony before House and Senate committees. Social conservatives, including the Minnesota Family Council and testifiers at Tuesday's hearing, have come out in opposition to the bill, saying it could violate the free speech rights of religious groups and schools to disapprove of homosexuality. As Patch reported in 2011, the last time Dibble's anti-bullying bill was introduced, the Family Council has long been opposed to anti-bullying measures that explicitly protect LGBT students.
Should the state legislature pass the measure? Is this the right way to tackle bullying in Minnesota schools?