SSIA Reaches Record Levels of Support

MEDIA CONTACT:
Daryl Presgraves
646-388-6577
dpresgraves@glsen.org

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2013 – The GLSEN-led National Safe Schools Partnership of more than 100 national organizations is excited to announce that the Safe Schools Improvement Act, federal legislation that would require schools to adopt enumerated anti-bullying policies, has reached record support in Congress, with 176 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 43 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate. The legislation finished last Congress with 170 and 41 cosponsors, respectively.

With 10 Republican cosponsors in the House and Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the Senate, the Safe Schools Improvement Act also has more Republican cosponsors than any other LGBT-inclusive bill.

“We are extremely encouraged by the increased support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act, particularly among our Republican friends who recognize that all students deserve to be safe in school regardless of who they are,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “When children do not feel safe, they cannot learn. The Safe Schools Improvement Act is a common-sense solution to address the bullying problem in this country. Congress has the power to make a difference, and we look forward to working with our partners on the Hill and in the National Safe Schools Partnership to build even more bipartisan support for this critical legislation.”

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and in the House by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), addresses bullying and harassment for all students, including those who are bullied on the basis of their actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, if they are from a military family, or any other distinguishing characteristic. No federal law or policy exists that requires schools to adopt policies to address bullying and harassment. Existing state laws vary greatly in their reach and effectiveness.

GLSEN and the National Safe Schools Partnership are also proud to announce that the bill has the support of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Traditionally, House leadership rarely cosponsors legislation, and Pelosi’s support serves to highlight the importance and urgency of the bill.

“No student should feel unsafe in the classroom—not because of who they are, not because of anything,” said Leader Pelosi. “Congress should pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and ensure that our schools are safe places for everyone to learn.”

Nearly two-thirds of middle and high school students (65%) said they had been bullied in school in the past year, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report from GLSEN and Harris Interactive that surveyed more than 3,000 students. Students at schools with comprehensive anti-bullying policies similar to the one required by the Safe Schools Improvement Act were less likely than other students to report a serious harassment problem at their school (33% vs. 44%).

LGBT students experience bullying and harassment at an even more alarming rate. Eight out of 10 LGBT students (81.9%) said they've been harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 63.9% because of their gender expression, according to GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey.

About GLSEN
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit 
www.glsen.org.

About the National Safe Schools Partnership
Led by GLSEN, The National Safe Schools Partnership (NSSP) is an informal coalition of leading national education, health, civil rights, disability rights, youth development and other organizations committed to ensuring that America's schools are safe for all children. Members of the National Safe Schools Partnership include the American Federation of School Administrators, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of School Psychologists.

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