NEW YORK, NY
– The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, today hailed the overwhelming passage by the New York City Council of the Dignity In All Schools Act. The bill passed 45-3 and now needs Mayor Bloomberg’s signature to ensure protections for all people from bias-harassment on school property.
“The New York City Council today set a positive example for the rest of the state and indeed the nation,” noted GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings. “The veto-proof passage of this bill sends a clear signal to New Yorkers that the city is committed to ensuring that schools are safe and effective environments for all those who set foot on school property. Since 75% of American students still go to schools in states that do not ensure the safety of all students, we call on the mayor to immediately sign the bill and
for the state of New York to follow the city’s lead by passing the statewide Dignity for All Students Act which has been debated without signing for more than four years.”
The Dignity In All School Act covers all people, including students, faculty, volunteers and visitors, from bias-harassment on school property based on factors including religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, disability, academic performance, or any other physical characteristic. The bill covers all public schools along with private non-parochial schools and includes training for principals on how to address bullying and harassment in their schools. Each school will compile an annual report to the Department of Education, which will document the number of bullying incidents, the type of bullying and how it was addressed. This will provide an annual snapshot of what sort of bullying is taking place in NYC schools.
GLSEN’s 2004 State of the States report recently noted that 42 states, including New York State, receive failing grades when it comes to ensuring safe and effective school environments for all students, particularly lesbian, bay, bisexual and transgender students. The New York City Dignity In All Schools Act sets an example for the New York State legislature to emulate to join the growing roster of states that have taken steps to protect all students from bias and harassment.
GLSEN’s 2003 National School Climate Survey found that LGBT students who did not have (or did not know of) a policy protecting them from violence and harassment were 40% more likely to report skipping school out of fear for their personal safety. 4 out of 5 LGBT students report being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation – while 83% of LGBT students note that faculty and staff never or only rarely intervene when they are present and homophobic remarks are made.
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN’s educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit the online library at www.glsen.org.