The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 2, 2014

Minn. gay rights groups turn attention to bullying

ST. PAUL — Long before gay rights activists in Minnesota launched a successful campaign to legalize same-sex marriage, they were aiming for another high-profile goal: a state law protecting children from school bullies.

Backers of a bill dubbed the "Safe and Supportive Schools Act" think 2014 is finally their year.

OutFront Minnesota, one of the main political forces behind last year's gay marriage bill, will rally supporters Monday at the Capitol as it aims to push the bill through the state Senate after years of setbacks, including a 2009 veto by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Supporters see a window of opportunity, with full Democratic control at the Capitol guaranteed only through the end of this year.

"I don't think we're going to see one" Republican vote in the Senate, said Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, lead Senate sponsor of the gay marriage bill and the bullying bill. The House passed the bill last May on a straight party-line vote.

The bill, which would require all Minnesota school districts to develop and enforce a plan to reduce bullying, exposes some of the same cultural divides as the gay marriage debate. Social conservatives worry some students could get labeled bullies for expressing religious views. But the legislation is also facing from interest groups representing school superintendents, school board members and rural school districts, who see the state delving deep into school policies.

"We have always supported safe environments for our children," said Gary Amoroso, a former Lakeville superintendent who now leads the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. "If a child doesn't feel safe, they're not going to be as productive. So that's not even a question. The question revolves around what is the best way to go about ensuring that safety."

The bill would require all Minnesota public schools to adopt written policies on bullying prevention and designate a staff member to implement the policy. School employees and volunteers would be trained to spot bullying and be required to "make a reasonable effort to address and resolve the prohibited conduct."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Poet takes his act to Las Vegas LAS VEGAS — The old poet is dressed in black, his platinum-blond hair rakishly moussed. He stands amid the hubbub, facing a stern test of his crafted words and carnival-barker delivery. The venue is a smoky lounge called Ichabod’s, east of the Strip.

    July 23, 2014

  • Minnesota race track to refund horse owners ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota race track manager says the track will refund horse owners after an audit found it shorted race purses by nearly $437,000 over four years. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (http://bit.ly/1p9mtEh ) the Running Aces

    July 23, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysia jet victims leave Ukraine KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, while British investigators began work on a pair of "black boxes" to retrieve da

    July 23, 2014

  • Attorney general sues 2 Minn. colleges ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against two colleges, accusing the schools of misleading criminal justice students about their ability to land a job in their field and about transferring credits to other instit

    July 22, 2014

  • sniper wife pic Jurors start considering Ventura case ST. PAUL — An attorney for Jesse Ventura asked a federal jury Tuesday to award the former Minnesota governor millions of dollars in damages for what he claimed is a lie in a memoir by the late military sniper Chris Kyle. Ventura testified during the

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Target debuts shopping app "In a Snap" will recognize images

    July 22, 2014

  • Feds to monitor Newark police Probe found pattern of unconstitutional policing

    July 22, 2014

  • Thousands without power due to storms MCGREGOR (AP) — Thousands of Minnesotans are without electricity after powerful storms moved through central and northeastern Minnesota. Strong winds of 50 to 70 mph knocked down trees and power lines overnight Monday. Minnesota Power and Lake Count

    July 22, 2014

  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014