The Maine Legislature gave initial approval Tuesday to LD 1512, legislation from Rep. Traci Gere, D-Kennebunkport, that would plan for a new state-level position to help address incidents of bias, discrimination and harassment in Maine’s public schools. The House vote was 81-62, and the Senate approved the measure by unanimous consent.

“We know that families with children in our school systems can face real difficulties dealing with these types of incidents all on their own,” said Gere. “I am grateful for my colleagues’ willingness to develop a solution that works for these families. Supporting all students, making sure they feel safe and included, makes a big difference in the quality of life in our state. Exploring a system to help in identifying, solving and learning from challenging problems will also benefit our communities as we work to sustain and build Maine’s population and our economy.”

Should the proposal pass, the study will include key stakeholders like the Maine Department of Education, the Maine Human Rights Commission, school administrators and students. The study will produce a report that will help state agencies and lawmakers design the ombudsman position.

The bill faces further votes in both the House and Senate.

Gere, a member of the Labor and Housing Committee, is serving her first term in the Maine House and represents Kennebunkport and parts of Biddeford and Kennebunk.