From Statehouse to Schoolhouse
Anti-Bullying Policy Efforts in U.S. States and School Districts
For advocates and historians, the relationship between legislative and policy victories and social change
remains a matter of the utmost importance and some mystery. At GLSEN, our watchword has always
been that the passage of a law or adoption of a policy is not the end of the work but simply the end of the
beginning. We must then move into the next phase of our work, trying to ensure that the impact of laws
passed in statehouses is felt in schoolhouses at the local level.
This study throws the path from passage to impact into high relief. It reinforces the importance of
legislative and policy progress, with findings that strengthen our long-held conviction that LGBT-inclusive
enumerated laws and policies can lead to improvements in LGBT students’ experience. It also illustrates
the gap that can emerge between the intentions of a law and the effectiveness of its implementation via
policy and regulations. There are still many school districts in the U.S. that have failed to institute policy
protections, even in states which require them by law.
For years, we have led groups of students and advocates through statehouse hallways chanting a
mnemonic for our legislative ask for bullying prevention: “Naming! Training! Reporting! Funding!”
GLSEN’s advocacy regarding bullying-prevention law and policy has always focused on a core set
of critical provisions that we believe to be vital to bridging the gap between legislation and improved
student experience, including naming protected categories, including sexual orientation and gender
identity/expression; training provisions for educators on the issues; and reporting requirements to hold
schools accountable for progress. And, of course, funding for these stipulated mandates to facilitate
implementation. With this study, we can take a look back to see how broadly that call resounded.