Board Votes to Remove Enumerated Categories from Anti-Bullying Policy
NEW YORK Ė GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and its Ohio chapters, GLSEN Greater Cincinnati and GLSEN Northeast Ohio, are outraged by the Ohio State Board of Educationís decision Tuesday to remove enumerated categories from its anti-bullying policy because of the inclusion of sexual orientation.
"That the board would vote to remove enumerated categories is not just a major blunder, it shows that board members care more about intolerance than protecting students from bullying and harassment," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "As a former teacher, I know that almost all Ohio educators have the best interests of their students at heart. Itís a shame we canít say the same about the Ohio Board of Education."
All school districts must have a policy in place by the end of the year, according to a mandate from the Ohio state legislature.
The most effective policies to protect all students from bullying and harassment are those that are comprehensive and enumerate categories such as religion, race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 Harris Interactive report commissioned by GLSEN.
The report found that far fewer students report harassment is a serious problem at school when they have a comprehensive policy (33%) than when they do not (44%).
Bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and how masculine or feminine a student is are two of the top three reasons students say other students are bullied, behind physical appearance.
GLSENís 2005 National School Climate Survey found that nearly two-thirds (64.3%) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
Additionally, the percentage of LGBT students who report frequent harassment based on their sexual orientation was higher at schools with general policies (40.8%) than schools with no policy (39.8%). The rate drops to less than a third (31.6%) at schools with comprehensive policies.
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 GLSENís educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.