Today, Representatives Linda Sánchez (D-CA) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) reintroduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), which would require schools to have anti-bullying policies that specifically include LGBTQ students.
SSIA would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to require school districts in states that receive ESEA funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. SSIA would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
LGBTQ youth experience bullying at school more frequently than their non-LGBTQ peers. In January, HRC Foundation released the results of a groundbreaking post-election survey of more than 50,000 young people ages 13-18 revealing the deeply damaging fallout the November election has had on youth across the United States.
The online survey, believed to be the largest ever of its kind, found that 70 percent of respondents have witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment in the weeks surrounding the election, with racial bias the most common motive cited. More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth said they had been personally bullied during the presidential campaign or in the weeks following Election Day — compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth — with transgender young people most frequently targeted. Additionally, Hispanic and Latinx respondents were 20 percent more likely than other youth to report having been personally bullied, with harassment targeting both immigrant and nonimmigrant communities.
Passage of SSIA would be an important step in combating these levels of bullying.
HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier professional development program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools by embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ- and gender-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying and supporting transgender and non-binary students. For more information, visit www.welcomingschools.org.