CapitolToday, lawmakers introduced important legislation to curb harassment and cyberbullying at colleges and universities. 

Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) as well as Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) reintroduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.  This legislation would require colleges and universities receiving federal student aid funding to enact an anti-harassment policy that specifically addresses harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.  It also explicitly prohibits behavior often referred to as cyberbullying.

Tyler Clementi, for whom the bill is named, was an 18 year-old freshman at Rutgers University in the fall of 2010. Without Tyler’s knowledge, his roommate streamed video footage on the internet of Tyler in his dorm room with another male. After his roommate attempted to stream another such interaction a few days later, Tyler ended his life.

After his death, Tyler’s parents founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation to combat bullying and harassment and to promote safe and inclusive environments for LGBT youth.  Tyler’s mother Jane explained why they support this legislation, saying, “Schools need to take bullying, harassment, and humiliation seriously, by making it official policy. We support this legislation because no other student should have to feel the pain and humiliation that Tyler felt after he had been web-camed by his roommate.  Every student deserves to be protected and supported so they can focus on the reason they are in school...to learn."

LGBT youth experience bullying and harassment at school more frequently than their non-LGBT peers.  In fact, LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience verbal harassment, exclusion and physical attack at school as their non-LGBT peers.  The HRC Foundation's program focusing on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) works directly with students, faculty, and the administration to promote a climate of safety and inclusion for LGBT students. 

HRC applauds Senators Murray and Baldwin and Representative Pocan for their unwavering support for LGBT young people.  We will continue to work with them and all of our champions on Capitol Hill to pass this legislation.


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