The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 3, 2014

Students rally to support anti-bullying bill

ST. PAUL — Students from throughout Minnesota gathered Monday at the State Capitol to show their support for legislation to prevent bullying in schools.

Many spoke during an afternoon rally and shared stories about being bullied. They also called on lawmakers to take action this session to make sure other students aren't victimized.

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis would spell out some of the reasons students might be the target of bullies, ranging from race and religion to physical appearance and sexual orientation. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up the measure Thursday.

But social conservatives and Republican legislators are wary of the bill, which gay and lesbian advocacy groups are leading the push for.

At the rally, Elise Coffin, a senior at Duluth East High School, told the crowd that she has been bullied for being a lesbian.

"This bill needs to be passed because we can't afford to have kids across our state continue to show up to school in fear," she said. "We need to stand up for respect. We need to stand up for equality and we need to stand up for what's right and pass this bill."

Dibble, the chief author of the bill, said every student deserves to be safe and supported in school, no matter where they live.

"We need clear definitions to know what we're talking about," Dibble said. "We need protections for all students, training and resources for the adults in the buildings, guidelines for best practices and help for schools."

Autumn Leva, director of legislative affairs and communications for the Minnesota Family Council, said the bill's definition of bullying is too broad.

"It could encompass a student even expressing some sort of political or religious belief that is even just offensive to another student," Leva said. "Well, we'd be offending each other all day long through expressions of belief, and I don't think that's what bullying is. We need to be very careful in how we define that issue."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Sniper-Author-Ventura [Duplicate] Day 3 of deliberations ends in Ventura lawsuit Jury has deliberated 19 hours

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man accused of stealing from group HASTINGS (AP) — An Apple Valley man is charged with five counts of theft for allegedly stealing more than $113,000 from a Rosemount youth athletics group. Sixty-two-year-old Robert Steven Reischauer was the former finance manager of the Rosemount Ar

    July 24, 2014

  • Sanders offers lower-cost bill to reform VA Bill would allow vets to go to private doctors

    July 24, 2014

  • Wetland Loss [Duplicate] Report says Prairie Pothole region losing wetlands BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Federal officials and conservationists say a recent report detailing wetland losses in the five-state Prairie Pothole Region over the past decade highlights the need for increased protection for the region that provides breeding

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • France: Air Algerie flight vanishes over N Mali ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali, the plane's owner and a French government official said. Air navigation services lost

    July 24, 2014

  • Migrant children face test in Dallas immigration court DALLAS — In a packed Dallas immigration courtroom, Elsy Garcia sits next to her 16-year-old brother, Jose. She last saw him when he was 9, when she fled their home in Usulutan in southern El Salvador. Now Jose is facing deportation. His case is conf

    July 24, 2014

  • 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 ( ) 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