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Letter: Senate Bill Would Deter Bullying (Ithaca Journal)

To the Editor:

Your April 15 editorial, “Approve anti-bullying legislation,” hit the mark. The time for state lawmakers to confront bullying in New York’s public schools is long overdue.

They should start by passing the Dignity for All Students Act, which would amend state education law to protect public school students from harassment and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, religious practice, weight, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.

The bill’s protections are not limited to these categories, as it aims to protect all students from any harassment that substantially interferes with their education. Teachers and staff would receive regular training to properly address instances of harassment and discrimination. The bill, which has passed the Assembly multiple times only to stall in the Senate, would require reporting of such incidents.

Sen. George Winner, who represents Ithaca, should support this bill. Last year, the State Human Rights Commission ordered the Ithaca City School District to pay $400,000 to the mother of a middle school student who had endured vicious harassment at school, including racial slurs, spitting and threats of violence.

The Dignity for All Students Act would help prevent this kind of abuse. It’s time the Senate passed it.

Erica Braudy
Lead Organizer, New York Civil Liberties Union

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