New York-(ENEWSPF)- The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the GLSEN-led National Safe Schools Partnership today lauded the reintroduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Rep. Linda Sanchez introduced a House bill with bipartisan support that addresses bullying and harassment for all students, including the categories of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. A Senate version of the bill (S. 403) was introduced with bipartisan support by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) on February 28.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act is a zero-cost bill that would require schools to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that address bullying and harassment and ensure the safety and well-being of all students. No federal law or policy exists that requires schools to adopt policies to address bullying and harassment. Existing state laws vary greatly in their reach and effectiveness.
"The Safe Schools Improvement Act is a bipartisan response to the unsettling fact that many schools remain hostile and unsafe for our nation's youth," said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director. "No student should ever feel compelled to skip school or not be able to succeed in class as the result of unchecked bullying and harassment. We thank Congresswoman Sanchez for her continued efforts to provide federal leadership on a critical issue affecting millions of young people."
"We join with more than 100 organizational partners in GLSEN's National Safe Schools Partnership to call for the passage of this essential bullying-prevention measure," said Byard. "This bill presents a real opportunity to protect students through bipartisan action with no impact on the budget."
Ask your members of Congress to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act
"We owe it to our children to protect them and make sure they have a safe and comfortable learning environment at school," said Congresswoman Sanchez (D-CA). "We are failing our students if they are afraid to come to school because they face daily threats and intimidation. Bullying can destroy a student's self-esteem and wreck their academic progress. No child deserves to be bullied or harassed, and it's time we made this violent and destructive behavior a relic of the past."
In the last session of Congress, the Senate and House versions of the bill finished with 41 and 170 bipartisan cosponsors, respectively.
Reintroduction of the House bill comes after GLSEN's Safe Schools Advocacy Summit that took place from March 2-5. The four-day summit brought together parents, students and educators concerned about school safety from 30 different states to learn more about safe schools advocacy. Participants also had the opportunity to share their personal experiences of bullying and harassment in school with their elected officials and congressional staff.
LGBT students experience bullying and harassment at an alarming rate. Eight out of 10 LGBT students (81.9%) said they've been harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 63.9% because of their gender expression, according to GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey.
About the National Safe Schools Partnership
Led by GLSEN, The National Safe Schools Partnership (NSSP) is an informal coalition of leading national education, health, civil rights, disability rights, youth development and other organizations committed to ensuring that America's schools are safe for all children. Members of the National Safe Schools Partnership include the American Federation of School Administrators, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of School Psychologists.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe 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.