by David Cohen
Last Sunday on Gay Pride Illinois became the ninth state to enact an enumerated anti-bullying bill that explicitly protects LGBT students from bullying. At a Chicago-area elementary school, Governor Pat Quinn signed the states’ recently passed anti-bullying bill that specifically mentions a list of protected characteristics that includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The bill passed both chambers overwhelmingly.
New York, which passed a similar law last week, will become the 10th state to enact such a law when Governor David Paterson signs the bill.
“At long last, schools across the State will be uniformly required to take steps to protect vulnerable kids from bullying and violence,” – said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. “Students who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are particularly vulnerable to bullying. And the attempted suicide rate among LGBT students, which is as much as three times higher than the general average, presents alarming evidence for just how urgently we need this law.”
“GLSEN applauds Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for signing an anti-bullying law that truly will protect all students from bullying,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “Research shows that enumerated anti-bullying laws provide the greatest protection for students, and GLSEN thanks the Illinois legislature and Illinois safe schools advocates for ensuring that a strong anti-bullying bill is now the law of the land in Illinois.”
The national report School Climate in America found that students from schools with policies like the ones passed in Illinois and New York are more likely to feel very safe at school (54% vs. 36%) compared to students at schools without such policies.