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PNS Daily Newscast - October 29, 2020 

Trump supporters left to battle frigid temperatures in Omaha; absentee ballots surge in Tennessee.

2020Talks - October 29, 2020 

The Supreme Court blocks North Carolina and Pennsylvania Republicans from requiring ballots to be delivered by Election Day. And a Texas court is requiring masks at polling places.

Having Faith In Safe Schools Act

December 6, 2010

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The Missouri Safe Schools Coalition is gearing up for the 2011 Missouri legislative session with what's being called a "power summit" in Jefferson City on Dec. 9. The members' goal is to design a "safe schools law." A similar proposal was defeated last year; since that time, the Coalition has grown to 40 groups across the state.

Nancy Belt with Coalition member Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel points to the national headlines of teen suicides and a recent national poll that found almost half of all high school students had been bullied, as reasons why Missouri needs tougher anti-bullying laws. The faith community is involved, in part, because of research that found 20 percent of children are bullied based on their religion, she says.

"Religion is one of those areas that there can be a lot of discrimination applied to."

Along with religion, Belt says, the proposed law would protect young people who might be a target because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or race. Opponents argue there should be equal protection for everyone, and certain characteristics should not be singled out as more worthy of protection than others. However, advocates with the Coalition, such as Promo Fund, contend a law that defines categories gives educators guidance by addressing specific forms of bullying.

Morgan Keenan, Missouri Safe Schools coordinator with Promo Fund, says identifying categories such as religion is an effective way of decreasing bullying incidents.

"Kids are being bullied not just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they're being bullied because they have a different religion. That's something we've got to think about in every school district."

Within the past year, several states, such as New York and North Carolina, passed anti-bullying laws that include categories.

The statistics are from the report "Torment to Teasing" released by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), available at

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO