|Responding to the advocacy of the NYCLU and the DASA in Action Coalition, the New York City Department of Education in September 2008 instituted Chancellor's Regulation (A-832), which prohibits bullying and harassment in the city's public schools. The regulation is a good first step, but much more must be done to create respectful, inclusive and safe learning environments in all city schools.|
What is DASA in Action?
In response to the refusal of the Bloomberg administration to enforce the Dignity in All Schools Act, we are asking individuals and organizations to join DASA in Action! to demand full implementation of this already-enacted law. Attached is a statement committing signatories to help address the problem of pervasive bias-based harassment in New York City's public schools by supporting the full enforcement of the Dignity in All Schools Act. Students are currently being harassed and even assaulted based on their actual or perceived race, national origin, ethnic group, religion, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, sex and gender -- including their gender identity or gender expression. On-going, widespread harassment puts students in an atmosphere of fear which undermines their academic potential. It can lead them to skip school, engage in high-risk behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse or even contemplate suicide. Harassment is a real issue in New York City schools:
|Osama al-Najjar, a 16-year-old at Tottenville High School in Staten Island, plunged into a deep depression and tried to commit suicide because he was incessantly referred to as Osama bin Laden. His parents have sued the school system, claiming their son was constantly harassed by teachers while school officials did nothing.|
|Sikh student Harpal Singh Vacher, a freshman at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, was forced into a boys' bathroom by another student who removed his turban and proceeded to cut his waist-length hair. In accordance with the Sikh religion, his hair had never been cut.|
|“Kids scream dyke at me in the halls,” recalls a high school-aged girl in Queens who is a member of the LGBT youth program Generation Q.|
To address this serious problem, the New York City Council passed the Dignity in All Schools Act in June 2004 and then overcame a veto by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to enact this important law September 2004. But the mayor has refused to enforce the law. Among the most important provisions ignored by the mayor but required by the Dignity in All Schools Act are mandatory anti-harassment trainings for school staff and monitoring, reporting and tracking of bias-based harassment, including a complaint process mechanism for parents and students. The City of New York and its public school system have a legal and ethical obligation to provide a safe environment for all students in public schools. But the mayor, the chancellor and the Department of Education have abdicated responsibility for this most basic of obligations. Join us in supporting a complete implementation of this important and necessary law, the Dignity in all Schools Act.