NEW YORK - The New York Senate late tonight passed the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), an enumerated anti-bullying bill that includes protections from bullying and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
The bill already passed in the Assembly and now goes to Gov. David A. Paterson, who is expected to sign the bill.
If signed, New York will become the 10th state to enact an enumerated anti-bullying law that includes a list of characteristics most often targeted by bullies, which research shows is more effective than a general anti-bullying law.
"This is a watershed moment for New York schools, which are about to get safer for all students. GLSEN applauds the New York State Legislature for taking comprehensive action against all forms of bullying and ensuring that all students are protected under the law," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "After 10 long years of work to pass this legislation, GLSEN is pleased that New York will now join nine other states that have passed effective, enumerated safe schools legislation."
"We also congratulate the hard work of the Dignity for All Students Act Coalition, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York Civil Liberties Union, NYSUT, and the Anti-Defamation League, whose dedication to safe schools and leadership on this effort made this victory possible."
GLSEN has been working on a New York anti-bullying bill since a version was first introduced in 1999. DASA has passed the Assembly seven times but failed to pass the Education Committee in each instance until this session.
LGBT students in New York face extreme victimization. Inside New York Schools: The Experiences of LGBT Students, a research brief based on New York students who participated in GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey, found that 79% of LGBT students in New York had been verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
"Such widespread support for an enumerated bill gives us even more hope that Congress will follow suit and pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act so that students across the country will have the same protections," GLSEN Director of Public Policy Shawn Gaylord said.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act is a federal anti-bullying bill introduced in the House with 114 bipartisan cosponsors that would require schools that receive federal funding to have enumerated anti-bullying policies.
The nine other states that have enumerated anti-bullying laws are California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Three additional states (Colorado, Maine and Minnesota) have nondiscrimination laws that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, which GLSEN considers necessary for a state to have a safe schools law.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and 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.