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Live and let learn: NY bullying policy dots its i's without crossing its T's

by Jeremy Hooper

Great, long overdue news came out of NY last night:

NYS Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Students from Bias-Based Bullying and Discrimination
State Senate passes Dignity for All Students Act with bipartisan support; Pride Agenda calls on Governor to sign into law

Albany, New York, June 22, 2010 – In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 58-3, the New York State Senate today passed a bill combating bias-based bullying, harassment and discrimination in the state’s public schools. The Senate vote follows the Assembly’s May 17 passage of the “Dignity for All Students Act” or “Dignity” (A.3661/S.1987) with a vote of 138-4.

“No student should have to fear for his or her safety while trying to learn in school,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross Levi. "We are glad that both chambers of the legislature have come together and joined the other states that have passed measures like this important piece of legislation. We call on the Governor to sign this bill into law so that public schools will be able to provide more effective protections from bullying and violence to students who differences make them frequent targets."

The Dignity bill creates tools for school administrators, teachers, parents and students to address bullying and bias-related behavior of all kinds that interfere with student safety and learning. Key provisions include: developing rules to prevent and respond to discriminatory harassment and hate violence; establishing teacher, staff and administrative training guidelines; incorporating discrimination awareness into civility and character education curricula; and, required reporting of incidents of bias harassment to the State Education Department.

Categories specifically listed in the bill are race, color, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, weight, disability, sexual orientation and gender, though its protections are not limited to these categories. Gender is defined in the bill to include “gender identity and expression.”

“We thank the Legislature for passing the first-ever state law that includes protections based on gender identity and expression,” said Ross Levi. “This significant law will now protect some of our community’s most vulnerable members—transgender youth for whom unsafe schools can be the beginning of a lifetime of marginalization that can include health issues and even homelessness. The Dignity bill is an important first step in protecting all transgender New Yorkers.”
KEEP READING: Empire State Pride Agenda

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