by David Cohen
The Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed an enumerated anti-bullying bill today that includes protections from bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
The Senate passed the bill last month. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who is expected to sign the bill.
If signed, Illinois will become the ninth state to enact an enumerated anti-bullying that includes a list of characteristics most often targeted by bullies, which research shows is more effective than a general anti-bullying law.
LGBT students in particular in Illinois face extreme victimization. Inside Illinois Schools: The Experiences of LGBT Students, a research brief based on Illinois students who participated in GLSEN’s 2007 (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) National School Climate Survey, found that 89% of LGBT students in Illinois had been verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
Having an enumerated anti-bullying policy can make a difference and improve school climate. GLSEN’s From Teasing to Torment: A Report on School Climate in Illinois found that 75% of students at schools without enumerated policies reported that they heard homophobic remarks often or very often from other students, versus 54% of students at schools with enumerated anti-bullying policies.
The eight other states that have enumerated anti-bullying laws are California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Three additional states (Colorado, Maine and Minnesota) have nondiscrimination laws that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act is a federal anti-bullying bill introduced in the House with 103 bipartisan cosponsors that would require schools that receive federal funding to have enumerated anti-bullying policies.
For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.