The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that directs Iowa schools to implement anti-bullying policies. "It’s carefully crafted to get safe schools in Iowa, like 29 other states," said Senator Mike Connolly, a Democrat from Dubuque.
But many Republicans, like Senator Nancy Boettger of Harlan, objected to the bill because it says students shouldn’t be harassed because of certain traits like their race, their gender, or their sexual orientation. "We are not protecting all kids equally because we are giving special protection to those," Boettger said.
Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines who is openly gay, spoke in favor of the bill. "We know that more than 45 to 50 percent of those kids that are perceived gay or are actually gay are being harassed verbally and physically," McCoy said. "…If you happen to be one in 10 — one in 10 that was born gay — your world is a completely different world and the things that you experience and the feelings that you go through on a daily basis are different than anyone else’s."
Others argued private schools in Iowa should not be forced to adopt such anti-bullying policies if it violates their religious beliefs.
The bill passed the Senate just before eight o’clock Tuesday night on a 36-to-14 vote. It must also clear the House and get signed by the governor before it becomes law.