Sydney Spreck, Pony Express Columnist
Many students live with fear in their everyday lives due to bullying at school. Certain groups of students are targeted more than others due to their race, sexual preferences or gender identification. These groups of students need stronger protection under state law because they are the kids being more frequently targeted by bullies. This is why many Minnesota groups are supporting an anti-bullying bill that is currently being discussed by the state Legislature.
The current Minnesota law regarding bullying is one of the weakest in the nation. At only 37 words long, it fails to provide specific protection for students and guidance for teachers. The newly proposed bill that is moving through the Legislature would provide more in-depth guidelines on how bullying should be dealt with and how bullying is defined. Opposition to the bill is based not on any concern for Minnesota students, but on the typical Republican concern for money above all else.
The bill is very popular among Minnesota organizations that are concerned about the well-being of students.
“It is supported by more than 100 Minnesota organizations that are members of the Safe Schools For All Coalition,” stated the Winona Daily News. “The group includes education, disability, youth, religious, LGBT and social-service organizations that have worked to build public support for a stronger law.”
The Safe Schools for All Coalition hosted a series of workshops for students and a rally at the Capitol in support of the bill. Senior Mackenzie Fenner and a few other Stillwater students missed school for a day in order to attend the summit and rally.
“I had a great time meeting new people that also wanted to work for safer schools at the student summit,” Fenner said. “It was amazing to see how many people cared about changing the bullying law in Minnesota.”
To a lot of students this issue is very important.
“I am definitely against bullying, so I fully support this bill,” Fenner said. “There are so many kids who have been hurt by bullying just because they might be a bit different. Nobody should be treated badly if they are part of the LGBTQA community, because sexual orientation is not what defines people, and everyone should be able to express who they are without fear of being bullied.”
“This bill means a lot to me because I was bullied harshly as a child, and I don’t want anyone to go through the same pain and harassment as I did,” said junior Stephanie Swarthout, who also attended the youth summit.
It is difficult to understand why the schools would value money over the wellbeing of their students, but this seems to be the case. The bill aims to protect those students who are most at risk in our schools, and anyone who cares about Minnesota youth should contact their legislators in support of it.
This piece is provided by Hoof Prints, a partnership between The Gazette and the Pony Express, Stillwater Area High School’s student newspaper.