The anti-bullying Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) has finally passed in the New York Senate after nine consecutive years of shooting the bill down. A large part of the credit for this success goes, of course, to the bill’s Assembly sponsor, Daniel O’Donnell and its Senate sponsor, openly gay Sen. Thomas Duane. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly last month and Gov. Paterson has pledged to sign it into law. Via press release from O’Donnell’s office:
Assembly Member O’Donnell remarked, “Too many students are bullied based on real or perceived differences with their classmates. Every student deserves an environment free of harassment and discrimination, 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 the Dignity for All Students Act will finally reach the Governor’s desk.” O’Donnell strongly thanks his Assembly colleagues for their longtime leadership on this and other LGBT issues, the countless advocates who lobbied the Legislature on behalf of DASA, the Senate leadership for delivering a successful vote, and Governor Paterson for his steadfast support of this important piece of legislation.
The Empire State Pride Agenda cheers:
Today’s vote in the State Senate marks a significant victory after years of fighting to protect students from bullying and harassment in schools. The Dignity bill creates tools for school administrators, teachers, parents and students to address bullying and bias-related behavior of all kinds that interfere with student safety and learning. Key provisions include: developing rules to prevent and respond to discriminatory harassment and hate violence; establishing teacher, staff and administrative training guidelines; incorporating discrimination awareness into civility and character education curricula; and required reporting of incidents of bias harassment to the State Education Department. In addition to sexual orientation and other categories such as race, color, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, weight, and disability, Dignity offers protections based on gender identity and expression. This marks the first time that protections based on gender identity and expression would be included in state law.