Yesterday, by a vote of 36 to 6, the Nevada Assembly passed a sweeping anti-bullying initiative seeking to ensure the safety and well being of the state’s youth. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the passage of the bill that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Brian Sandoval who sponsored the bill.
“Far too many of our nation’s youth suffer from verbal and physical harassment or assault from their peers based on something as basic as who they are,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Thanks to the strong support of Governor Sandoval and those who advocated for this crucially important legislation, school districts in the Silver State will finally have the tools they need to implement protections for LGBT youth.”
HRC submitted written testimony on this bill, which stated, “Nationally, 65 percent of teens have been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted based on a characteristic that makes them different from some of their peers, like their race, religion, or gender, and 65 percent of junior high school teachers report that bullying and harassment is a serious problem in their school. In Nevada in 2013, nearly 20 percent (1 in 5) of students reported being bullied on school property and nearly 15 percent reported experiencing cyberbullying.”
The deck is stacked against young people growing up LGBTQ in America and the impact of family rejection, bullying, and daily concern for safety weighs heavily on our youth. HRC’s groundbreaking report, Growing Up LGBT in America, found that LGBTQ youth nationwide are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved at school.
Once signed into law, twenty states plus the District of Columbia will have state laws that specifically protect LGBT students from bullying. These laws are vital because LGBT students face an increased risk of school bullying which can result in greater absenteeism, lower self-esteem, school pushout, lower grades, and lower educational aspirations for such students.
HRC was proud to work alongside organizations like the ACLU of Nevada, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the Transgender Allies Group and supportive lawmakers like Senator David Parks to pass this important legislation.