By Nancy Ford
Students who fear returning to school this fall because they are the victims of bullying by their peers may have reason to feel less intimidated.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, praised the August 5 introduction in the U.S. Senate, by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and 10 cosponsors, of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, a federal anti-bullying bill that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act, which is endorsed by the nearly 70 members of the GLSEN-led National Safe Schools Partnership, requires comprehensive anti-bullying policies in our nation’s public schools. The bill was introduced in the House last year by Rep. Linda Sánchez and has 119 bipartisan cosponsors.
“GLSEN would like to thank Senator Casey for introducing this potentially lifesaving bill in the Senate,” Eliza Byard, GLSEN executive director, said. “Our nation has failed to address the pervasive problem of bullying and harassment in schools for far too long. Countless youth are denied access to an education every day because they do not feel safe in school. Passing the Safe Schools Improvement Act would go a long way toward laying the necessary foundation of support that is lacking in many American schools.”
Nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students said they had been harassed in the past year, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students. Additionally, 60.8 percent said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
Both studies, however, found that students at schools with a comprehensive anti-bullying policy similar to the one required by the Safe Schools Improvement Act reported harassment at a significantly reduced rate. http://www.glsen.org.