The New York Senate has approved an
anti-bullying bill that includes sexual orientation and gender
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
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
“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
The Dignity For All Students Act also
protects students on the basis of race, color, national origin,
religion, religious practice, weight and disability.