“Our job as the legislature is to protect people:” Some lawmakers hoping to pass a bill prohibiting discrimination

MARYLAND- Whether it’s your race, color, or religion some Maryland lawmakers want to assure students aren’t being discriminated against.

“Our job as the legislature is to protect people including our most vulnerable students,” Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, a co-sponsor of the Senate Bill, said.

In this Maryland General Assembly session, there’s a bill in the Senate and the House, that would prohibit local boards of education, public schools, and private schools who accept state money from refusing enrollment expelling a current student or discriminating against a student, based on what makes them who they are.

“No one should be bullied, because they are black, because they are Muslim, because they are Jewish, because they are disabled, because they are gay, because they are lesbian, because they are trans, that’s not acceptable behavior in any circumstances and it’s certainly not acceptable in schools,” Waldstreicher said.

Waldstreicher told us incidents of children being bullied because of these things are common, so the goal is to really make schools a safer space. This is something Speaker Pro Tem Sheree Sample-Hughes agrees needs to be a priority.

“With this bill in particular and others that we have passed, we just really want to be clearly known that the time is over,” Delegate Sample-Hughes said.”It’s over for people to be discriminated for their religion, for their sexual preferences, all those types of things.”

While some feel this bill is a step in the right direction, one lawmaker we spoke with has concerns.

“Of course nobody wants discrimination when we are talking about discrimination for race or ethnicity or gender,” Delegate Wayne Hartman said. “A school could lose state funding for discrimination of religion. So, you know the private schools do a great job, they certainly save tax payers money because parents are paying to have their children educated, and not utilize the government funded schools. So, I think these schools are deserving of some type of funding or something from the state.”

But, as a response to this, supporters of the bills said it’s important these specific schools follow the lead of other schools getting this funding.

“Private schools that accept state money should reflect the values that we as a state legislature believe in, the value of non discrimination, the value of not having children be bullied,” Waldstreicher said.

We are told the bill would also prohibit an educational institution from seeking revenge against a student or parent who files a complaint alleging discrimination.

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