HRC Blog

Bill Would Fight Bullying and Harassment at Universities

Conversations about safe schools are often focused on elementary, middle and high school students. But college and university students remain vulnerable to the mental and emotional struggles associated with being a victim of bullying and harassment.

Last week, Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Rush Holt, both New Jersey Democrats, reintroduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which would require colleges and universities that receive funds for federal student aid to implement a policy that prohibits student, faculty and staff harassment – including harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It would also require schools to distribute the policy to all students, faculty and staff, along with the procedure to follow if an incident occurs. Schools would be required to recognize cyberbullying as a form of harassment and notify victims and perpetrators of harassment about counseling, mental health and other services that are available to them.

The bill is named for Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University freshman who died by suicide in 2010 after he was secretly recorded by his roommate.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act were also reintroduced in Congress last week. Members of Congress are sending a clear message that the safety of all students – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – is among their priorities.

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