Just two days after the New York State assembly passed an antibullying measure addressing discrimination and violence in the state's public schools, the state senate passed its own version. Known as the Schools as Safe Harbors Act, the senate overwhelmingly passed the bill Wednesday on a 54-4 vote. "We are pleased that both chambers of the legislature agree that schools must be a safe place for all students to learn," said Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. "While there are important differences between the two versions that must be resolved, we are hopeful that 2003 may finally be the year that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students get to go to school safe from violence and harassment."
"There are still four more scheduled days left in the [2003 legislative] session," said Alan Van Capelle, executive director for the statewide gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda. "We will be working hard to get a final bill that provides safe learning spaces for all students." Van Capelle added that he knows "the hurt and fear of being intimidated in school. I know what it's like to be called a faggot. I know what it does to a child's self-esteem. We will not support anything that does not provide protections for everyone."