National Safe Schools Partnership Urges Congress to Support Safe Schools
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a member of the National Safe Schools Partnership, applauds Congresswoman Linda Sanchez from California for introducing a bipartisan federal bill Monday night that would protect all students from bullying and harassment.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R. 3132) instructs school districts to adopt safe schools policies with enumerated categories, including bullying and harassment based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, among others. The bill also requires states to include bullying and harassment data in state-wide needs assessments reporting they already must complete.
"GLSEN, our chapters, our student leaders, our partners and all of us who care about student safety thank Congresswoman Sanchez and her co-sponsors for recognizing the necessity for all students to feel safe in school," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "This common-sense bill is a necessary and important step in reducing bullying and harassment in our nationís schools."
Currently, only 10 states and the District of Columbia protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation, despite the fact that students say that form of harassment is the second most common behind harassment based on physical appearance, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a Harris Interactive Report commissioned by GLSEN.
In GLSENís 2005 National School Climate Survey, nearly two-thirds (64.3%) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students (LGBT) reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. Nearly two-thirds of LGBT students (64.1%) also said they had been verbally harassed in school at least some of the time during the past year because of their sexual orientation and about half (45.5%) because of their gender identity.
"Bullying and harassment is a huge problem in our nationís schools," Jennings said. "We know that comprehensive safe schools policies reduce bullying and harassment. Hopefully Congress will show it is committed to the safety of our children in school and pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act."
The Safe Schools Improvement Act amends the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (Title IV of the No Child Left Behind Act). Current federal law provides important federal support to promote school safety but does not comprehensively and expressly focus on issues of bullying or harassment.
This bill, which might also be included as part of legislation to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, addresses the recommendations contained in the policy statement recently released by members of the National Safe Schools Partnership three weeks ago at a Congressional briefing hosted by Sanchez.
The policy statement, Bridging the Gap in Federal Law: Promoting Safe Schools and Improved Student Achievement by Preventing Bullying and Harassment in Our Schools, reflects consensus based on research and long-standing experience among education, civil rights, health, youth services and law enforcement organizations.
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all 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, research, public education or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
The National Safe Schools Partnership is an informal coalition of leading national education, health, civil rights, law enforcement, youth development and other organizations committed to ensuring that America's schools are safe for all children. To that end, members of the Partnership have joined together in support of federal policy recommendations based on long-standing research and experience.