POLITICS

Manitoba updates anti-bullying and diversity measures for schools

12/04/2012 04:50 EST | Updated 02/03/2013 05:12 EST
WINNIPEG - Manitoba schools will soon have to take new steps to combat bullying and promote diversity.

The NDP government has introduced a bill that would require school employees, volunteers and others to report any bullying incident to the principal, including online activity.

Education Minister Nancy Allan says the bill is partly in response to the death of Amanda Todd, a British Columbia girl who committed suicide in October after being tormented through social media.

The proposed law would also require school boards to ensure their policies about student Internet use include anti-bullying measures.

As well, the bill would require every school board in the province to accommodate students who want to set up groups that promote equality for people based on gender, race or sexual orientation.

Allan says the proposed law is based partly on new legislation in Ontario and British Columbia.

"It's a new issue that all jurisdictions in Canada are dealing with," she said Tuesday.

The bill defines bullying as an activity intended to "cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other forms of harm" and specifically includes text messages, email and web sites.

A controversy over sexual orientation flared up in Winkler, Man. last winter, when a school took down postcards mentioning gay and lesbian rights from the walls of a Grade 5 classroom. The issue has been cleared up with the area's school division, Allan said.

"They are in the process right now of implementing their human diversity policy. Their trustees are on board and they're working with their community in regards to creating safe and respectful learning environments."