MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota House was in an emotional debate Tuesday over a bill that would toughen the state's bullying laws, following a rash of student suicides linked to bullying.
But Republican critics call the bill (HF826) social engineering, and worse. They are comparing the tougher law to Hitler and George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984."
"Fascism, Minnesota style," said Rep. Mary Franson (R–Alexandria)."HF826 is simply another attack on the Bible and conservative Christians."
GOP lawmakers say free speech is getting bullied, by a national gay rights lobby. That's because the bill specifically defines bullying to include attacks on a student's sexual orientation or gender identification.
The bill requires bullying to be reported to a technical center for remedial education.
But critics say some of the things defined as bullying in the bill are just normal school yard behavior.
"The democrats are turning our state inside out, and our children are paying the price," said Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker).
Some Republicans argued that the bill will usher in sexually explicit grade school lesson plans.
"That is a direct pipeline for this type of perverted curriculum which, if you showed it to a child 10 years old outside a public school grounds, you could be charged with obscenity crimes," said Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe).
Supporters say all of that is false, and taken to extremes. They say the only purpose of the bill is to stop bullying.
"This is part of a national movement to make sure we get more kids staying in school, more kids learning, achieving and getting to high school graduation," said Rep. Jim Davnie (D-Minneapolis).
Some Republicans said the bill will have a chilling effect on the free speech rights of students. They said it's part of the same gay rights movement that silenced anti-gay marriage comments at Duck Dynasty, Target, Chick-fil-A, and Mozilla.
Despite all the emotion, the bill is expected to pass, and Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will sign it.
The bill could pass as soon as Wednesday.
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