San Diego Gay and Lesbian News
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) today reintroduced legislation aimed at curbing harassment and bullying at colleges at universities across America.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2014 requires colleges and universities to prohibit harassment and establishes within the Department of Education a grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs.
The legislation was first introduced by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg after Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, took his own life after his roommate and another student invaded his privacy and harassed him over the Internet.
“Despite statistics telling us LGBT students are nearly twice as likely to be harassed, there is no federal requirement that colleges and universities have policies in place to protect their students,” Murray said.
“Thankfully, this bill gets to the heart of this issue by ensuring students and schools alike have the tools and resources necessary to not only prevent this epidemic of harassment, but assist victims who are too often left with no sense of closure or recourse for their perpetrators. I am extremely grateful for the work my friend Frank did to honor Tyler Clementi’s life with this legislation and I am proud to be joined in this effort by Senator Baldwin. No student – whether they’re gay, straight, black, white, Christian, or Muslim – should have to face discrimination and harassment in their pursuit of education,” Murray said.
“No student or employee should have to live in fear of being who they are. Our schools should not be, and cannot be a place of discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation or violence. This legislation is an important step forward in not only preventing and addressing harassment on campus, but also making sure our students have the freedom to succeed in safe and healthy communities of learning and achievement,” Baldwin said.
“Everyone deserves a fair shot at our colleges and universities across America and this legislation will help ensure people can pursue their dreams free of harassment and bullying,” Baldwin said.
According to a 2004 study by Rowan University, 27.5% of college students indicated they had seen students being bullied by other students. LGBT students are nearly twice as likely as their peers to experience harassment, and are far more likely to indicate the harassment was based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, there is no requirement that colleges and universities have policies to protect their students and employees from harassment. Nor is there Federal aid dedicated to enact programs to prevent and reduce harassment against students.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2014:
• Requires colleges and universities receiving federal aid to establish an anti-harassment policy prohibiting the harassment of enrolled students based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion.
• Requires colleges to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees, upon request.
• Recognizes “cyberbullying,” which includes harassment undertaken through electronic messaging services, commercial mobile services, and other electronic communications.
• Authorizes a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education to initiate, expand, or improve programs to: (a) prevent the harassment of students; (b) provide counseling or redress services to students who have been harassed or accused of subjecting other students to harassment; and (c) train students, faculty, or staff to prevent harassment or address harassment if it occurs.
The legislation’s cosponsors include: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The bill has received support from advocates and organizations including: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, People For the American Way, The Trevor Project, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, and Young Invincibles.
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