The Safe Schools Improvement Act, aimed at addressing bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.
Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, and Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, are lead sponsors of the bill, marking the first time legislation on the issue has been introduced with bipartisan support, notes the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. Casey sponsored the legislation in the previous session of Congress, but it failed to get out of committee. Within a few weeks, Rep. Linda Sanchez of California is expected to introduce a companion bill in the House, as she did in the previous session.
The act would require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also require schools to report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education, and the department to report this to Congress.
Casey released a statement saying the act will "help ensure that every child receives a quality education that builds self-confidence. This bill is a crucial step towards ensuring that no child is so afraid to go to school that he or she stays home for fear of bullying."
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