New York Becomes 10th State to Enact Anti-Bullying Law with LGBT Protections
NEW YORK - Governor David Paterson signed the historic Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) into law today, making New York the 10th state to enact an enumerated anti-bullying law that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, which research shows is essential to addressing anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying.
"This is a huge step forward for New York at a time when students across the state head back to school," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "We commend Governor Paterson for signing a bill into law that, if implemented properly, will make New York schools safer for all students. This is a great victory for all of us in the Dignity for All Students Act Coalition who have worked for 10 years to make this day happen. Most importantly, the billís signing is a victory for all New York students, who will be able to go to school in an environment where they know their school must protect them from bullying."
GLSEN has worked to pass an anti-bullying bill in New York since a version was first introduced in 1999. DASA has passed the Assembly seven times but failed to pass the Senate Education Committee in each instance until this session.
DASA prohibits bullying in schools and includes a list of characteristics most often targeted by bullies, including race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
LGBT students in New York face particularly 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.
Action in states like New York to address all forms of bullying has fueled optimism that the federal Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced in the House and Senate, also soon will become law.
"While we celebrate a historic day in New York, the somber reality is that 40 states still do not have adequate protections that protect students from bias-based bullying," Byard said. "To truly address all forms of bullying, we have to be willing to name the types of bullying that some schools and educators are reluctant to address."
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) and Washington DC 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.