Alex Constantine - April 15, 2014
By Winnie McCroy
A week after the Minnesota State Senate approved an anti-bullying bill, the House also approved it, but not before local Republicans spent hours decrying it as "fascism" that could expose students to "filthy, perverted information."
"The Democrats want access into your private life," said Rep. Jim Newberger, a Republican from Becker, as Twin Cities.com reported. "If this isn’t a mirror image of ’1984,’ I don’t know what is. The only difference is George Orwell was off by 30 years."
The legislation is reportedly only 378 words, requiring school leaders to develop a comprehensive anti-bullying policy, train staff to prevent bullying and quickly investigate allegations.
The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act passed on a 69-63 vote in the House, and a 36-31 vote in the senate, with all Republicans voting against it. They spent hours arguing that the legislation itself amounted to bullying by the government, calling it "fascism."
House Republicans like Glenn Gruenhagen, a Republican from Glencoe, also expressed concerns that the legislation would expose students to "filthy, perverted information." Others complained that it would strip students of the constitutional rights -- ostensibly, the right to bully and intimidate fellow students, one presumes.
But Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, the chief sponsor of the measure in the House, said that "sexuality and health education is local control and not affected by this bill. There has been a lot of misinformation about this bill. The perception it deals with sexuality education is not correct."
Davnie added that the legislation is needed to ensure students felt safe at school, telling TwinCities.com, "We talk about this being about anti-bullying, and it is. It’s also about positioning Minnesota as a leader in the next generation of education reform," referring to the role safe schools play in academic achievement.
Others accused the local gay advocacy group OutFront Minnesota of stacking the deck and working toward "a social agenda," as a section of the legislation prevents bullying students for the sexual orientation or gender identity.
Eventually, the legislation passed. Joe.My.God. reports that Gov. Mark Dayton will sign the bill into law at 4 p.m. today, in a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol.