Sunday, April 22, 2012

Safe Schools

The non-profit that I represent is a member of a Safe School Coalition here in Connecticut, which is made up of various state agencies and non-profits from around the state. We worked to pass last year’s school anti-bullying law, AN ACT CONCERNING THE STRENGTHENING OF SCHOOL BULLYING LAWS Public Act No. 11-232. The law strengthens the previous law and added cyber-bullying and bullying off of school property under certain situations. Connecticut is now only one of fourteen states that include bullying off of school property, the law also attached fines for non-compliance. The law firm Shipman and Goodwin just published a FAQ guide on the law, The New Bullying Statute: Best Practices and Frequently Asked Questions. The booklet is geared more toward the school system administration then the students. The coalition is working on our own FAQ, that will be more neutral.

On the national level, President Obama came out in support of both the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) which would target discrimination and bullying against students based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. In an article in MetroWeekly, Chris Geidner wrote,

The White House today announced that President Obama is endorsing the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), two bills pending in Congress to address bullying and discrimination faced by students across the nation.

White House spokesman Shin Inouye tells Metro Weekly, "The President and his Administration have taken many steps to address the issue of bullying. He is proud to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Senator Franken and Congressman Polis, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Casey and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. These bills will help ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment."

The SSIA would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying- and harassment-prevention programs, including ones based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The SNDA, modeled after Title IX, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal education nondiscrimination law.

I doubt they will ever pass in a Republican controlled House, so President Obama endorsement is really only symbolic.

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