A bill offered by Rep. Pat Garofalo, a Republican from Farmington, would exempt a large number of school districts from the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, a comprehensive and LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying bill passed in 2014.

House File 102 would change the safe schools act by exempting school districts from the law if they already have an existing anti-bullying policy. The only criteria is that the policy must protect all students. Here’s the language:

(c) This section does not apply to a home school under sections 120A.22,
1.22subdivision 4, and 120A.24, or a nonpublic school under section 123B.41, subdivision 9,
1.23or a public school located in a school district that has adopted a written bullying policy
2.1under Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 121A.0695, that protects all students served by
2.2the school district.

OutFront Minnesota’s executive director Monica Meyer told supporters in an email on Tuesday that the bill, if passed, would weaken the safe schools law:

Yesterday, in the Minnesota State House of Representatives a bill was introduced that would weaken the Safe & Supportive Schools law.

HF 102 would allow any district that passes a policy with apparently any content, provided that it applies to all students, to short-circuit the entire safe-schools structure the legislature passed last year. If this were to become law, it would allow a district to pay lip service to the concept of bullying prevention while doing nothing to protect kids or build a safe and supportive environment.

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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, 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.