Metro Weekly

Democrats reintroduce anti-bullying bill in Congress

Sen. Patty Murray - Credit: Senate Democrats/flickr.

Sen. Patty Murray – Credit: Senate Democrats/flickr.

Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill reintroduced anti-bullying legislation Wednesday that seeks to prohibit harassment on college campuses.

Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Tammy Baldwin (Wisc.) reintroduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act in the Senate with five cosponsors and Rep. Mark Pocan (Wisc.) reintroduced the bill in the House of Representatives with 27 cosponsors.

The bill would require institutions of higher education receiving federal student aid funding to establish policies that prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion and would allocate federal aid to assist in establishing such policies. The proposed legislation also establishes a grant program at the Department of Education to support campus anti-harassment activities and programs, such as training and counseling.

Colleges would be required to distribute their anti-harassment policy to current and prospective students and employees upon request. Moreover, cyberbullying would be recognized by the bill. According to Pocan, bullying poses a “real and persistent danger” for too many college students, particularly those who are LGBT.

“No student should have to live in fear of being who they are,” added Baldwin in a statement. “Our schools should not be, and cannot be a place of discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation or violence. This legislation is an important step forward in not only preventing harassment on campus, but also making sure our students have the freedom to succeed in safe and healthy communities of learning and achievement. Everyone deserves a fair shot at our colleges and universities across America and this legislation will help ensure people can pursue their dreams free of harassment and bullying.”

The bill is named after Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University who committed suicide in 2010 after two fellow students used a webcam in Clementi’s dorm room to watch his romantic encounter with another man.

“All students deserve the chance to further their education, without the fear of harassment and bullying,” Murray said in a statement “LGBT students are more likely to be harassed in school, yet there is no federal requirement for colleges and universities to protect their students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I am proud that this bill would take meaningful steps to provide schools and students with tools to prevent harassment and protect survivors. By honoring Tyler’s life with this legislation, we can work to prevent the bullying that far too many students are forced to endure.”

Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2015

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.

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