The New York Senate has approved an anti-bullying bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 58 to 3, senators approved the Dignity For All Students Act Wednesday.

The Assembly has approved the bill nine times since it was first introduced in 2002 by openly gay Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell.

Governor David Paterson – a strong gay rights ally – is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill calls on school officials to address bullying and bias-related behavior of all kinds that interfere with student safety and learning. The law requires reporting of bias-related incidents to the State Education Department and creates rules that help prevent hate violence.

“Too many students are bullied based on real or perceived differences with their classmates,” O'Donnell said in a statement. “Every student deserves an environment free of harassment and discrimination, an environment that allows every child to reach his or her full potential. For too long, our educational system has been blind to the plight of these students.”

The legislation was approved just as the LGBT community is set to celebrate gay pride this weekend in New York City.

“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,” Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, said.

The Dignity For All Students Act also protects students on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, religious practice, weight and disability.