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The Minnesota House passed the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act early Wednesday morning after 12 hours of debate.

The House was the last stop for the bill which aims to strengthen Minnesota anti-bullying laws. The bill passed the House last year but was blocked in the Senate by Republicans. Major changes were made to the bill in the Senate which passed the bill last week and the House had to accept those changes. That’s where Republicans made their last stand on the bill.

Republicans engaged in 12 hours of speeches against the bill. They brought up pornography, Hitler, Obamacare, George Orwell, Alfred Kinsey, the Salem Witch Trials, serial killer Ted Bundy, the Cold War, and the film The Matrix in attempts to convince DFLers to vote against the bill.

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, claimed the bill “fascism Minnesota style” adding that under the bill “school children are not allowed to disagree with the special interests such as the LGBT groups and Democrats.” She said, “HF 826 is simply another attack on the bible and conservative Christians.”

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said the bill “is a direct pipeline to implementing this type of perverted curriculum which if you show to a 10- year old you could be charged with obscenity.” Children will be “taught this filthy perverted information.”

Rep. Mike Beard, R-Shakopee, said, “It’s part of a national agenda… being pushed in several states that are trying to nationalize our local education. They are doing massive amounts of bullying themselves, chilling free speech and suppressing debate.” He accused the LGBT community of “bullying” Target’s CEO, Chick-Fil-A, Miss America Carrie Prejean, Starbucks, Duck Dynasty and “now the CEO Mozilla was bullied right out of his job” alluding to recent boycotts against anti-LGBT people and businesses.

When not complaining about inclusion of LGBT students in the bill, Republicans offered possible solution to bullying in schools.

Rep. Gruenhagen offered spanking as an alternative to the anti-bullying legislation saying that “it’s cheap, proven, and effective… We tied the hands of school districts from disciplining students.”

Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, Made the argument that kids should just stand up to bullies. “If you stand up to bullies you will learn from it. What are these kids going to do when they get into the adult world? They are going to have to stand up on their own.”

After 12 hours of debate, the bill passed. Gov. Mark Dayton has announced he will sign the bill Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol.

“Every student deserves a save and supportive learning environment and this bill is going to help improve school climate and protect all students,” said OutFront Minnesota’s Monica Meyer in a statement shortly after the bill passed.

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Andy Birkey
Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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