Today, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) reintroduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which would require colleges and universities to have comprehensive anti-harassment policies that include LGBTQ young people.
Specifically, the legislation would require policies that prohibit harassment of enrolled students by other students, faculty, and staff based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion and would require colleges to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees upon request. It would also explicitly prohibit behavior often referred to as cyberbullying.
Tyler Clementi, for whom the bill is named, was an 18 year-old freshman at Rutgers University in the fall of 2010. Without Clementi’s knowledge, his roommate streamed video footage on the internet of Clementi being intimate in his dorm room with another male. After his roommate attempted to stream another such interaction a few days later, Clementi ended his life.
After his death, Clementi’s parents founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation to combat bullying and harassment and to promote safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ youth. Last July, Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mom, testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and implored the Committee to include the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act in any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
“I believe this bill will allow institutions of higher education to take a fresh look and reexamine their policies and procedures that are and are not in place,” Jane shared in her written testimony to the committee. “In addition this legislation is your opportunity to not only keep our own young adults safe but to also have a global influence. Book knowledge is important but the wisdom of empathy and compassion is priceless. Bullying does not magically disappear when someone turns 18. We must continue to provide safe and supportive learning environments for all students in all learning environments including higher education.”
HRC applauds Senators Murray and Baldwin and Representative Pocan for their unwavering support for LGBTQ young people. We will continue to work with them and all of our champions on Capitol Hill to pass this legislation.