Proposed anti-bullying scholarship draws concerns

A newly proposed bill in the Florida Legislature would allow students who have been bullied at school to receive a scholarship to a private school or a transportation scholarship to a different public school of their choice following a report of themselves being subjected to bullying, battery or harassment. State Rep, Bryon Donalds, R-Naples, filed his Hope Scholarship proposal last month. However, there are growing concerns of how effective this bill might actually be.

“This wouldn’t solve problems,” freshman Christian Lutz says. “It would be like putting a Band-aid on it. The problem isn’t fixable with money. It’s fixable with changed people.”

Sophomore Tyanna Tizol agrees with Lutz on treating the bullying issue.

“In my opinion, they had the right idea of trying to help out those bully victims or those who are victims of assault or other crimes. The way they are carrying that out though, I don’t think is OK,” she said. “I don’t think it will help solve the bullying problem because the bullies will continue to do what they are doing just to other students.”

To be eligible for this scholarship, no proof of bullying or harassment is necessary, a condition of the bill that Tizol opposes.

“I feel like since you don’t actually have to show evidence, some people will try and take advantage which also takes away from the actual purpose of the bill,” Tizol said. “But I do believe it will be able to actually help some of those who are legitimate victims of bullying.”

The program’s funding will come from voluntary $20 sales tax contributions from people who purchase a new motor vehicle in Florida.

The bill has already cleared a subcommittee last month and must clear two more committees before reaching the House floor.

By Rosellen Rodriguez