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Tallahassee Town Hall Meeting

Everyone agrees schools should be a safe place for students to learn, but is Florida ready to enact a law to prevent harassment in the classroom?

Two Muslim women are relaying a story of how they were harassed about their religion while they were in middle school, and they're not alone.

Advocates against harassment in school are joining together to support a bill, which aims to prevent student harassment in the classroom.

"As a society we have an obligation to the students. We compel them to be in school. We've got to face up to that obligation, make that classroom a safer place, and the way to do it is for the Legislature to show leadership," says, Nadine Smith, Equality Florida executive director.

The bill addresses harassment based on several traits such as race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.

"I don't think the teachers know how to handle it and how to help the children. They think it's a right of passage. I think it can be very damaging," said Vicky Miller, a former school counselor.

It also includes training teachers how to deal with harassment among students and increasing students' awareness of harassment.

“If you have discrimination going on and you know it, you don't do something about it, you are supporting it," said Leonardo Falcon, pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena.

The teachers' union, PTA and several student organizations across the state are among 90 groups supporting the measure.

The dignity for all students bill is modeled after law passed in eight other states that effectively reduced bullying, harassment and violence in schools.


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