Bipartisan support shows consensus to address school bullying and harassment
NEW YORK - May 17, 2012 - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and its GLSEN Southern Maine and GLSEN Downeast Maine Chapters praise the passage of an enumerated anti-bullying bill that specifically addresses school harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The legislation passed with widespread bipartisan support in both the Maine Senate and House.
"GLSEN thanks the Maine legislature for taking an important step in ensuring our schools are safe, welcoming and free of violence for all students," said GLSEN Southern Maine Co-chair Betsy Parsons. "We thank Rep. Terry Morrison and Sen. Phil Bartlett for their leadership in introducing this important legislation. We also thank the student leaders who advocated so strongly for this measure."
The passed legislation creates essential protections for Maine students against bullying and harassment. In addition to requiring the adoption of a comprehensive anti-bullying policy in every school district, the bill requires the development of a state model policy, places a focus on alternative discipline, addresses cyberbullying, and requires staff training on bullying and harassment.
With Governor Paul LePage's signature, Maine will become the 15th state to enact an anti-bullying bull that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
GLSEN congratulates its partners a part of the coalition whose leadership and dedication made this victory possible, including Equality Maine, ACLU of Maine, the Maine Women's Lobby, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Maine Children's Alliance, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, the Maine Council of Churches, the Maine Education Association, and the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination.
"While we celebrate a historic victory for the youth of Maine, the somber reality is that youth in most states still do not have adequate protections from bias-based bullying," said GLSEN National Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "The bipartisan support in Maine sends a strong message to Congress that politics should not stand in the way of swift, comprehensive action that ensures our young people are safe and treated with respect in school."
The 14 other states with anti-bullying laws that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Research shows enumerated bullying policies are essential to addressing anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying. To learn more, please view GLSEN's 2009 National School Climate Survey that documents the experiences of LGBT students in our nation's K-12 schools.
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.