St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A Minnesota Senate Committee listened to testimony Tuesday for and against a bill that aims to strengthen the state's anti-bullying law.
The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, authored by Sen.Scott Dibble, calls for schools to adopt a written policy to prevent and prohibit bullying, harassment and intimidation.
Schools would also designate a primary contact person to take complaints and create programming to help students identify bullying.
The Senate education committee heard about three hours of testimony Tuesday.
Those in favor say it's badly needed to put a stop to bullying.
Others say it would create an administrative nightmare and in some cases interfere with free speech rights.
"We could move toward an environment that keeps all students including those with disabilities and other differences, not only safe from harmful behavior, but surrounded by an atmosphere that is accepting of differences kindness toward others and inclusions for all," said Julie Hertzog, president of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center.
"I'm afraid that this bill is going to be focusing not on the behavior of the bullies, addressing that, stopping that, but on creating a safe environment that goes beyond the behavior of the bullies to in my view, cheapening the beliefs of 5, 10, 15 year old kids on matters of sexually, family structure and beyond," said Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council.
The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary committee.
Governor Mark Dayton has said he supports anti-bullying legislation.