Manitoba's proposed anti-bullying legislation was front and centre Thursday at the provincial legislature, where more than 100 people gathered to voice their support for it.

A rally in support of Bill 18 started at 3 p.m. and ran until 5 p.m. in front of the legislative building.

The controversial bill has been challenged by religious schools and institutions in the last few weeks.

Schools in Steinbach, as well as area MP Vic Toews and religious groups, have spoken out against the bill, arguing that it infringes on their religious freedom by mandating schools to accommodate students who want to start specific anti-bullying clubs, including gay-straight alliances.

Others, though, have come out in support of the legislation, including a minister and professor of theology at the University of Winnipeg.

Parent Rebecca Sokol organized the rally in support of the legislation. She said the legislation is an important step forward for the province.

She said her kids are still developing and she wants them to feel free to express themselves.

"My children, still, we don’t know who they are, and whoever they turn out to be, we want them to have a safe spot," said Sokol. 

Sokol said she was bullied in Manitoba schools.

"I just know that it affected me, and it wasn’t about my sexuality, so I couldn’t image someone judging me on who I was," said Sokol.

"Even as an adult, some of the things people said still affect me."

Another rally in support of Bill 18 is planned for Saturday.