New York State Protects LGBTQ Teens

September 23, 2010

Just in time for back to school, Governor Paterson of New York signed the Dignity for all Students Act (DASA). This anti-bullying law forbids school harassment based on many factors, including race, origin, weight, religious belief and disability. And although New York will be the 41st state to pass anti-discrimination laws for schools, it joins only 13 states in specifically forbidding the bullying of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ). Students in New York should no longer fear harassment because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

To help create a safe environment for LGBTQ students, the new law requires that one staff member at each school be trained in instruction and counseling methods that are non-discriminatory. And DASA isn’t just about preventing your stereotypical schoolyard bullies; schools must give teachers, administrators and other school employees anti-discrimination training to raise their awareness and sensitivity to discrimination and allow them to respond appropriately to bullying.

Schools have an obligation to protect their students from all types of bullying. Just as no students deserve to be bullied for their genes, beliefs or abilities, none should fear harassment for the identities they choose, the pronouns they use or the valentines they send.

—Meg Gibbon, 18, Contributor

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