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GLSEN on SSIA 2015
Media Relations Manager
GLSEN Statement on the Reintroduction of the
Safe Schools Improvement Act by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey
NEW YORK (Jan. 29, 2015) – GLSEN Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, praised the reintroduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) in the U.S. Senate today. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., filed the bill that would require all public K-12 schools to enact fully inclusive anti-bullying policies that have specific protections against bullying and harassment of all students. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
“This legislation is crucial for the thousands of students, a disproportionate number of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), who face bullying and harassment each year in America’s schools,” said Dr. Byard. “Research has found that LGBT students who attend schools with enumerated anti-bullying policies experience lower levels of victimization, have lower rates of absenteeism and higher grade point averages, and report that teachers intervene in bullying incidents more than twice as often.
“We have long worked with Senators Casey and Kirk to make SSIA -- our most significant legislative priority in Congress -- a reality. We thank them for their ongoing leadership and again look forward to working with them and their colleagues in Congress to make these protections and local supports a reality for schools and students across the country.”
The latest edition of GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey recently found that while school climate has improved somewhat since 1999, schools nationwide remain hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students and that a hostile school climate affects students’ academic success and mental health. Seventy-four percent of LGBT students were verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55 percent because of their gender expression. As a result of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, 30 percent missed at least one day of school in the past month.
GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.