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Dignity for Students

The students are pushing for passage of the "Dignity for All Students” Act, which would make harassment and discrimination a crime in school.

Eighteen-year-old Leana Cudzilo is preparing to go lobby lawmakers about a painful issue. She was sexually harassed as a middle school student, and she thinks there should be a law to protect other kids from being picked on, beat up and humiliated.

"Some students get scared to come to school. They don't know how to deal with it. They know when they walk into a class, that person's going to be there, to bully them day after day after day," says Lena.

Three years ago the bill started as a way to protect gay students. Now, it targets bullying for any reason, but there are many legislators who don't believe harassment rises to the level of criminal behavior. They say let the school districts decide for themselves how to deal with it."

Sen. Stephen Wise suggests taking online classes.

"I think young people need to look at alternative ways in which they can be successful in life," says Wise.

Even if that means they don't get to go to their school anymore, they have to take their classes at home. What they found out is they did very well that way.

Brian Winfield helped organize the lobbying day. He's dumfounded that some lawmakers still don't think there's a problem.

"A 14-year-old being murdered in the school bathroom by another 14-year-old. How can you say there isn't a crisis going on when people are videotaping beatings and then selling the videotapes in school? How can you say there isn't a crisis going on in Florida schools?" says Brian.

The message will be a tough sell to lawmakers who still believe bullying is just part of growing up.

The “Dignity for All" student bill would mandate training for teachers to help them recognize harassment and spell out the punishments for students who violate anti-harassment policies.


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