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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act with the support of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Human Rights Campaign. This legislation would require school districts to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA-38), John Katko (R-NY-24) and Mark Takano (D-CA-41).

“Children deserve to go to school without fear or intimidation. Bullying and harassment affects far too many children with serious negative impacts on their mental and physical health, emotional well-being and academic achievement. With text messaging, social media and ever increasing virtual interactions, many children find they cannot escape the harassment when they go home at night. It follows them from the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep. This commonsense legislation will ensure that schools districts across the country take proactive steps to combat bullying and protect children,” said Senator Casey.

“Every child deserves to learn in a safe and welcoming environment, regardless of their race, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion. I’m proud to help introduce this legislation to help protect students from harm, and make clear that bullying and harassment have no place in our schools,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Rep. Linda T. Sánchez: “Our kids should be able to wake up and go to school every day without fear of being bullied when they get there. The Safe Schools Improvement Act will help deliver an educational environment that is free of harassment for every single one of our students. As a mother, I know this bill will bring peace of mind to parents, teachers, school administrators and staff, and I know it will make a difference for countless students in school hallways across the country. I thank Representative John Katko, Representative Mark Takano, Senator Bob Casey, the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for joining me in standing up for safer schools.”

“All students — regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion — should be able to learn in safe and supportive schools, free of bullying and harassment. The Human Rights Campaign applauds Representatives Sánchez, Katko, and Takano and Senator Casey for introducing the Safe Schools Improvement Act. LGBTQ youth are especially vulnerable to exclusion, discrimination, and violence, and this legislation is an important step in ensuring that our nation’s schools are accepting of students from diverse backgrounds and identities. The Human Rights Campaign urges Congress to pass this important bill,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign.Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, GLSEN Interim Executive Director said, “Thank-you to Senator Casey, Representatives Sánchez, Katko, and Takano for their leadership on this critically important legislation. Today, only 21 states, DC, and Puerto Rico have enumerated anti-bullying and harassment laws that specifically protect youth who are LGBTQ+, transgender, nonbinary, Black, Indigenous, people of color, and people with disabilities. The Safe Schools Improvement Act will empower schools across the country to collaborate with communities to prevent and more effectively respond to incidents of bullying and harassment, including establishing restorative discipline practices that will decrease the likelihood of youth entering the school to prison pipeline. This bill is needed now more than ever during this moment of mass disruption and trauma when all young people should be safe in K-12 learning communities.”

The Safe Schools Improvement Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

This legislation is supported by nearly 100 organizations, including the National PTA; the American Federation of Teachers; the American Library Association; Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network; the Human Rights Campaign; Unidos; the Anti-Defamation League; and the American Unity Fund.

Read more about the Safe Schools Improvement Act here.