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New York State Senate Passes the Dignity for All Students Act

The New York State Senate passed the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) on Tuesday night, a measure which would protect New York state public school students from harassment based on their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or sex. Governor David Patterson has already pledged to sign the bill into law, making it the first New York State law to contain language specifically addressing sexual orientation or gender expression, according to the Advocate. The measure, whose chief sponsor was State Senator Thomas Duane, was passed by the State Assembly on May 17. The Assembly has passed the bill seven times since 2002, but it has been repeatedly stalled in the Senate, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). Once signed, the bill will make New York the 43rd state to pass all-inclusive anti-bullying legislation, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The bill intends to curb harassment and discrimination in public schools by requiring that teachers and staff receive training to learn how to deal with bullying. It also requires that staff and teachers monitor and report instances of harassment and discrimination. The bill defines harassment as limited to actions that substantially interfere with a child’s education and does restrict speech and expression that could violate first amendment rights. Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU, said the legislation is a “major victory for children, parents and educators across the state. No child should be afraid to go to school. With this vote, the State Senate has empowered New York’s educators to fulfill their responsibility to provide all students a safe, nurturing learning environment,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. On June 10, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) bill died in the New York state Senate Judiciary committee. GENDA would have prohibited discrimination in New York based on gender identification or expression.

Sources:

Feminist Daily Newswire 6/10/10; Advocate.com 6/23/10; New York Civil Liberties Union; Anti-Defamation League Press Release 6/22/10

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