Safe Schools Improvement Act (S. 311/H.R. 2902)
The Safe Schools Improvement Act, GLSEN's signature legislation, would require all public K-12 schools to enact an anti-bullying policy that includes specific protections for bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity, along with other categories like race and religion.
Despite the fact that more than 8 out of 10 LGBT students are bullied in school each year because of their sexual orientation, Congress has yet to act. Currently, no federal law exists that addresses bullying and harassment, and existing state laws vary greatly from state to state in their breadth and effectiveness. It’s past time for Congress to address bullying and harassment nationwide. According to GLSEN's 2013 National School Climate Survey, 74.1% of LGBT middle and high school students said they had been bullied in the past year. Bullying of any kind is unacceptable, especially when it's preventable.
The good news? Our 2013 National School Climate Survey discovered that more LGBT students reported having an anti-bullying policy at their school than all prior survey years, including a modest increase in comprehensive and enumerated policies. The report also points out that LGBT students at schools with a comprehensive anti-bullying policy similar to the one required by the Safe Schools Improvement Act were far less likely to hear homophobic remarks (50.4% vs. 66.4% of students with a generic policy and 72.4% for students with no policy) and negative comments about their gender identity (41.7% vs. 57.6% of students with a generic policy and 62.3%of students with no policy). It’s not the 0% bullying we’re shooting for. But it’s a start.
GLSEN is proud to lead the 119-member National Safe Schools Partnership, a broad coalition of education, civil rights, disability, religious and youth development organizations who work to support this critical legislation. The Partnership's work and your calls and emails to your Representatives and Senators are paying off. The bipartisan bill is nearing record support in both the House and Senate.
The When and How
The Safe Schools Improvement Act was reintroduced in the Senate by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) on January 29, 2015. SSIA was also reintroduced in the House of Representatives on June 25, 2015 by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). The bill enjoys strong bipartisan support in both chambers. We can’t say for certain when it will become law, but your representatives need to hear from you!
Contact your representatives in Congress today and ask them to cosponsor the Safe Schools Improvement Act. It only takes a minute and makes a huge difference!