PA Sen. Casey Intros Federal Anti-bullying Bill

PA Sen. Robert Casey Introduces Federal Anti-bullying Bill with 10 Co-sponsors

GLSEN Lauds Introduction of Safe Schools Improvement Act in Senate

Bill Would Require Enumerated Anti-Bullying Policies in America’s Public Schools

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, praises today’s introduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, a federal anti-bullying bill that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, in the Senate by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and 10 cosponsors.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, which is endorsed by the nearly 70 members of the GLSEN-led National Safe Schools Partnership, will require 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,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard 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 lacking in many American schools.”

Nearly two-thirds of middle and high school students (65%) said they had been bullied in school in the past year, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report from GLSEN and Harris Interactive that surveyed more than 3,000 students.

LGBT students face even higher levels of victimization. Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.4%) 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% 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, which includes enumerated characteristics of students most often targeted, reported harassment at a significantly reduced rate.

“Bullying and harassment affect millions of students every year. While we do have federal laws to provide support to promote school safety, there is nothing currently in place to comprehensively and expressly address issues of bullying or harassment,” said Senator Casey. “I am pleased to introduce the Safe Schools Improvement Act to help ensure that every child receives a quality education that builds self-confidence. This bill is a crucial step towards ensuring that no child is so afraid to go to school that he or she stays home for fear of bullying.”

“Bullying is a national public health crisis that demands a national solution,” said mother Sirdeaner Walker, whose 11-year-old son Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover took his life in Springfield, Mass., last year after enduring constant bullying at school. “As a mother who knows the painful consequences of inaction, I urge Congress to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and give schools the tools they need to make their hallways and classrooms safer for all students.”

Members of the National Safe Schools Partnership, which in 2007 published federal policy recommendations in Bridging the Gap in Federal Law: Promoting Safe Schools and Improved Student Achievement by Preventing Bullying and Harassment in Our Schools, include GLSEN, the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of School Psychologists, among the nearly 70 national education, health, religious, civil rights, youth development and other organizations.

About the National Safe Schools Partnership

The National Safe Schools Partnership, led by GLSEN, is an informal coalition of leading national education, health, civil rights, law enforcement, youth development and other organizations committed to ensuring that America’s schools are safe for all children. To that end, members of the Partnership have joined together in support of federal policy recommendations based on long-standing research and experience.

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