The issue of bullying in schools rose to national prominence in the 1990s. The media reported stories about bullying and its effects on children’s mental and physical health sparking an increased interest and concern about bullying among the public, politicians and advocates.

While public interest continued to grow, Minnesota legislators brought forth a more comprehensive bullying bill after a decade of planning. Parents and students affected by bullying lobbied their legislators or teamed up with community agencies or shared their stories with the media. Community agencies, including organizations for students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, parents and communities of color provided advocacy help for students or offered education for schools and the public on bullying prevention and intervention.

Community advocacy, legislative planning, research, state and federal programming, and media coverage all created momentum for a three-year legislative process that resulted in the Safe and Supportive Schools Act.

In 2012, the governor convened the Prevention of School Bullying Task Force to review the research, interview members of the public and take testimony on bullying and its effects on students in school. 

Two Minnesota legislators, Senator Scott Dibble and Representative Jim Davnie, used the task force recommendations as the basis for the bullying prevention bill, which they put forward for debate during the 2013 legislative session. 

After failing to pass that year, many youth advocates came to the Capitol daily in March and April 2014 to observe hearings and testify. The Safe and Supportive Schools Act had its final vote in April 2014, and was signed into law by the governor on the on April 9, 2014.

Led by Education Minnesota, OutFront Minnesota, The Arc of Minnesota, and the Safe Schools for All Coalition of more than 120 groups and organizations, Minnesota's laws for bullying prevention went from one of the weakest in the country, to one of the strongest.

Governor Dayton's 2012 Prevention of School Bullying Task Force set forth to define bullying, harassment and intimidation and then provide recommendations for policy initiatives to the Governor and the Legislature.

The Safe and Supportive Schools Act strengthens protections against the threat of bullying in Minnesota schools. This law provides local school districts the guidance, support and flexibility to adopt clear and enforceable school policies to help protect all students from bullying. All students deserve to attend a school free of bullying, intimidation and harassment.

With OutFront Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Education expanded upon the work of the Safe and Supportive Schools act to develop the Toolkit for Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students in 2017.

This toolkit helps school districts and charter schools create school environments where transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe, supported and fully included, and have equal access to the educational opportunities provided to all students.

Further Reading