New York Governor David Paterson has
signed an anti-bullying bill that includes sexual orientation and
Paterson, a Democrat, signed the bill
this morning at a ceremony held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Community Center in the city's Greenwich Village.
The Dignity for All Students Act won
the overwhelming approval of senators in June after the Assembly had
approved the bill nine times since openly gay Assemblyman Daniel
O'Donnell first introduced the bill in 2002.
“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, 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. I am proud that the Assembly
led the way on this important issue, and that today, the Dignity for
All Students Act is finally signed into law.”
Michael Silverman, executive director
of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, a strong
backer of the bill, cheered the governor's actions.
“We applaud Governor Paterson 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,” he said.
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.
The Dignity for All Students Act also
protects students on the basis of race, color, national origin,
religion, religious practice, weight and disability.