MFL supports anti-bullying law

Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck delivered a strong message to a legislative committee this week in support of the Government’s anti-bullying bill. The Bill focuses on bullying and respect for human diversity in Manitoba schools.

The amendment to the Public Schools Act recognizes that bullying can take a variety of forms, including cyber-bullying. A school employee, or a person in charge of pupils during school-approved activities, must make a report to the principal if they think a pupil has engaged in, or is negatively affected by, cyber-bullying.

School boards must expand their policies about the appropriate use of the Internet to include social media, text messaging and instant messaging.

The Bill also requires each school board to establish a respect for human diversity policy. The policy is to promote the acceptance of and respect for others in a safe, caring and inclusive school environment. The policy must accommodate student activity that promotes the school environment as being inclusive of all pupils, including student activities and organizations that use the name "gay-straight alliance".

This move has sparked significant push-back, particularly from some religious communities. The religious right has charged that these amendments infringe on their ability to practice their faith – a claim that doesn’t impress Rebeck: “I fail to see how tolerance and inclusiveness, the foundations of this Bill, can possibly undermine anyone’s ability to worship their God. Being inclusive and accommodating the needs of all students, not just the ones that meet your expectations, seems consistent with my understanding of religion, not opposed to it. Preventing homophobic bullying and allowing gay, lesbian and straight students to meet in organized groups builds a stronger society and, I believe, stronger, more relevant religious organizations.”

The MFL President advised legislators to pass Bill 18, and bring about positive change for our society: “These are objectives that the union movement supports because it benefits, not only workers but our entire society. School yard bullies are the people that become workplace bullies. From our perspective, the place to deal with bullies is in our schools, before they enter the workplace.”

Read the MFL presentation on Bill 18 HERE.

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