Local Orgs., Atty. General & Auditor Applaud Gov. for Signing Enhanced Anti-Bullying Bill into Law

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Caption: Governor Deval Patrick, seated, signs into law an enhancement to the 2010 anti-bullying bill surrounded by colleagues (from left to right) lead sponsor Representative Alice Peisch, Anti-Defamation League New England Director Robert Trestan, bill author Attorney General Martha Coakley, Representatives Lori Ehrlich and Denise Andrews, MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini and lead sponsor Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz.  Photo: MassEquality

Caption: Governor Deval Patrick, seated, signs into law an enhancement to the 2010 anti-bullying bill surrounded by colleagues (from left to right) lead sponsor Representative Alice Peisch, Anti-Defamation League New England Director Robert Trestan, bill author Attorney General Martha Coakley, Representatives Lori Ehrlich and Denise Andrews, MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini and lead sponsor Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz.
Photo: MassEquality

Governor Patrick signs bill that will improve school climates for LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations

BOSTON, Mass.—Today, Governor Deval Patrick signed An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools into law in a special ceremony at the State House. This legislation updates the state’s anti-bullying laws to include specific protections for youth populations that are the most frequent targets of bullying, including LGBTQ youth. The legislation was approved with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, with representatives voting 143-4 and senators voting 37-1 in favor of the bill.

Executive Director of MassEquality, Kara Coredini, said the following concerning the Governor’s signing of the bill: “These enhancements to the existing anti-bullying law will not only provide a safer school environment for all students, they will send a message. Acceptance and respect for all youth in our Commonwealth’s schools is paramount to ensuring a productive learning environment in which all students can thrive. We are grateful to Senate President Murray, Speaker DeLeo, co-sponsors Senator Chang-Diaz and Representative Peisch, Attorney General Coakley and Auditor Bump for their leadership on this critical issue.”

An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools enhances the state’s landmark 2010 anti-bullying law by requiring school districts to include in their bullying prevention plans recognition that certain categories of students, including LGBTQ students, are particularly vulnerable to bullying. It also establishes a data collection and reporting mechanism to allow policy makers and administrators to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-bullying efforts. Both enhancements are based on recommendations developed by the Commission on Bullying Prevention, created by the state’s 2010 anti-bullying law and chaired by Attorney General Martha Coakley. [pullquote] “I congratulate the legislature on their dedication to enhancing our laws to be more effective tools in reaching this goal and Governor Patrick for his confident and swift action in signing this piece of legislation into law. Congratulations also to MassEquality, PFLAG, and the Anti-Defamation League for their tireless advocacy on this issue.”— Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump[/pullquote]

“This legislation is an important step toward ensuring that all young people are able to learn and thrive in our Commonwealth’s schools,” said Governor Patrick. “With this new law, we are continuing our dedication to our teachers, parents and kids to give them the tools and protections they need so that every student has a chance to reach their full potential.”

“This new law is the next step on our path to protect children from bullying,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “It will better protect students who we know are most vulnerable to bullying, including our LGBTQ students and those with disabilities. It will also allow us to better track the effectiveness of our bullying programs across the Commonwealth. I applaud Governor Patrick for his commitment to combating bullying in our schools. And I also would like to thank Senate President Murray, Speaker DeLeo, co-sponsors Senator Chang-Diaz and Representative Peisch, and MassEquality and the Anti-Defamation League for their leadership on this important issue.”

Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump, who also played a pivotal role in supporting the legislation, said: “This law will help us as adults and leaders to fulfill our most basic obligation to the children of the Commonwealth ─ to create safe places for them to learn, grow and succeed. I congratulate the legislature on their dedication to enhancing our laws to be more effective tools in reaching this goal and Governor Patrick for his confident and swift action in signing this piece of legislation into law. Congratulations also to MassEquality, PFLAG, and the Anti-Defamation League for their tireless advocacy on this issue.”

“Governor Patrick has once again demonstrated his unwavering support for Massachusetts students by enacting updates to the anti-bullying law that will protect the most vulnerable students and implement data collection mechanisms that will support prevention programs,” said Robert O. Trestan, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New England Regional Director. “This law represents a significant step forward in better protecting our children from bullying as well as continuing to change school culture. We look forward to supporting Massachusetts schools as the law is implemented in classrooms across the state. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Representative Alice Peisch, and Attorney General Martha Coakley for leading this effort and making school safety a top priority.” [pullquote]“Governor Patrick has once again demonstrated his unwavering support for Massachusetts students by enacting updates to the anti-bullying law that will protect the most vulnerable students and implement data collection mechanisms that will support prevention programs,” said Robert O. Trestan, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New England Regional Director.[/pullquote]

“As the 17th state to pass inclusive anti-bullying legislation, Massachusetts is sending an impactful message to its LGBT youth,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “LGBT students in Massachusetts can feel confident their educators are committed to providing them with the safe and inclusive school environments they deserve. GLSEN looks forward to the day when every student in every school in the country can feel just as supported.”

H. 3909, “An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools,” will update existing anti-bullying legislation by requiring every district to include specific protections in their bullying prevention plan recognizing frequently targeted groups, including LGBT youth.

The legislation will also implement two key methods of tracking incidences of bullying: a student survey to be conducted every four years gathering information about school safety and climate, and a data collection and reporting mechanism allowing officials to better measure and evaluate the impact of anti-bullying efforts.

The ADL and MassEquality co-chaired a broad-based coalition of advocacy organizations that worked for the past four years to secure passage of this enhancement to the state’s landmark anti-bullying law in 2010. [pullquote]The legislation will also implement two key methods of tracking incidences of bullying: a student survey to be conducted every four years gathering information about school safety and climate, and a data collection and reporting mechanism allowing officials to better measure and evaluate the impact of anti-bullying efforts.—GLSEN MA Chapter[/pullquote]

Massachusetts joins 17 other states and the District of Columbia in enacting anti-bullying legislation that provides specific protections for LGBTQ youth in schools. Studies show that anti-LGBTQ attitudes and behavior remain prevalent in the Commonwealth’s schools and that the provisions in this legislation are correlated with improvements in school climates.

In the 2011 National School Climate Survey of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educators Network, students in schools with comprehensive policies such as those required by the law enacted today were more likely than students in schools with a generic policy or no policy to report that staff intervened when hearing homophobic remarks (28.3% vs. 12.2% vs. 8.8%) or negative remarks about gender expression (19.0% vs. 10.5% vs. 8.4%).

MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism and hate through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

[From a News Release]

1 Comment on "Local Orgs., Atty. General & Auditor Applaud Gov. for Signing Enhanced Anti-Bullying Bill into Law"

  1. To try to help combat bullying, songs can teach children about kindness and tolerance. The song “Be a Buddy, not a Bully” can be heard on YouTube:

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