This Tuesday federal anti-bullying legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Linda Sanchez of California, Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from right here in Florida!
The Safe Schools Improvement Act,. H. R. 2262 would require schools that receive Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act funding to implement a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that enumerates categories often targeted by bullies, including race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and others.
It was almost a year ago that Gov. Charlie Christ signed Florida's statewide anti-bullying bill into law. While Florida's safe schools law does not explicitly include the same protections written into the proposed federal legislation, Sen. Baker, the bill's lead sponsor, put school districts on notice during the floor debate that they will be in violation of this law if they do not effectively confront all forms of bullying in their schools. Baker warned that the examples of harassment listed in the bill were not an exhaustive list and specifically highlighting anti-gay bullying as an issue that must be addressed under the bill.
Since its passage 10 Florida school districts have since updated their local policies to be fully inclusive of LGBT students.
Currently R. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [FL-18] and D. Rep. Robert Wexler [FL-19] are the two Florida co-sponsors.
Stay tuned for more updates on this critical piece of legislation...