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article imageNY's Dignity Act to protect gay, lesbian & transgender students

By Joan Firstenberg     Jul 21, 2010 in Lifestyle
Albany - New York State is creating the first-ever anti-bullying law to protect students in terms of their gender, manner of expression, and sexual orientation.
New York State is on the verge of passing an anti-bullying bill to protect all state students from bullying and harassment on the basis of their gender, their manner of expression and their sexual orientation. The Brooklyn Eagle reports that the Senate last week passed the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). The 58-3 vote in the Senate follows its passage in the Assembly by a vote of 138-4. Governor Paterson is widely expected to sign it into law.
Mark Silverman, the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund is very pleased.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students face tremendous amounts of bullying and harassment in New York schools. We applaud the New York State Legislature for taking this tremendous step to protect vulnerable students from the discrimination that can undermine their ability to succeed in the educational system and beyond. We can all be proud of New York’s achievement in moving to protect students who just want an equal shot at an education.”
Students in New York who are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender experience alarming rates of bullying and harassment. A recent survey done by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 79 percent had been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation and 62 percent had been verbally harassed because of how they expressed their gender.
The Dignity for All Students Act would enable teachers, parents, students and school administrators to address bullying and bias-related behavior of any and all kinds that interfere with student safety and learning. Rules will now have to be created, and a training guide for teachers and administrators prepared as to how to prevent this from happening. Most importantly, incidents of bias harassment will have to be reported to the State Education Department.
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