Yesterday, Governor Paterson signed the Dignity for All Students bill into law. The law requires school districts to make their environments harassment- and discrimination-free (by way of codes of conduct and policies) as well as reporting instances of bullying to the State Department of Education. Paterson said, "Bullying and harassment have disrupted the education of too many young people, and we in government have a responsibility to do our part to create learning environments that help our children prosper. I am proud to sign this bill into law as it will help ensure that students are protected from harassment, discrimination and bullying at school grounds and at school functions."
According to the governor's office, "The bill explicitly prohibits harassment and discrimination of students with respect to certain non-exclusive protected classes, including, but not limited to, the student's actual or perceived 'race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.'" Paterson also shared an anecdote about his experience with bullying, "As one of the first legally blind students that was allowed into public school ... I was a victim of that [bullying] many times... One day I got so upset, I took a metal lunch box... walked right into a classroom, right past the teacher who refused to do anything about it and hit this kid in the face."
NYC adopted an anti-bullying act in 2008, but earlier this year, a student at a Queens high school was allegedly stabbed by another student (it was suggested that it was spurred by the victim's bullying).