The national debate over bullying entered the Minnesota governor’s race Saturday during a televised debate in which Republican candidate Tom Emmer said that he would oppose legislation to combat school bullying against gay and lesbian young people.
“I don’t think we need more laws. I think we need more understanding,” said Emmer, whose response contrasted sharply from his two opponents.
Emmer, who in the past voted against anti-bullying legislation as a state lawmaker, said that teachers are most responsible for halting bullies, but suggested that the threat of lawsuits keeps them from doing so. [KMSP-TV]
Among the three major party candidates in the Minnesota race, DFLer Mark Dayton and the Independence Party’s Tom Horner both pledged their support for anti-bullying legislation that specifies sexual orientation.
“We cannot allow bullying to cause young people to take their lives because of who God made them,” Dayton said during Saturday’s debate at Hamline University in St. Paul.
In the last year, school safety advocates say four LGBT teens have taken their own lives in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District, most recently Justin Aaberg last July.
In 2009, Emmer voted against a bill that would have directed schools on how to address bullying against LGBT students. The bill passed the Minnesota Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Emmer is a staunch opponent of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.
You may recall that retailers Target and Best Buy were among several Minnesota firms that gave large donations to MN Forward, a political action group that is backing Emmer’s campaign.