Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

Tennessee Senator Jim Kyle yesterday filed the Dignity for All Students Act, an anti-bullying bill that, if passed, would further protect students and empower school administrators, teachers and staff to take an active role in bullying prevention.

The Dignity for All Students Act necessarily expands current anti-bullying legislation to include conduct based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of the individual.

The legislation will additionally require local education authorities to review anti-bulling policies at least once every three years.

The bill comes on the heels of the reintroduction of Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which is more hostile to LGBT youth than the bill’s previous versions.

 As it has in the past, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill would ban teachers in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade from discussing homosexuality, and specifies classroom instruction must only cover “natural human reproduction science.” What’s more, the new version of the bill would require teachers to tell parents if their child is LGBT.

During a meeting with the Times Free Press, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill unnecessary.

"I know it's kind of a revised form of a bill that came up last year," Haslam said to Times Free Press. "At the time I didn't feel the bill last year was needed, and I don't really think this one is needed either."

The deck is stacked against LGBT youth. Thirty percent of LGBT-identified youth say their family is not accepting or is homo-, bi- or transphobic, according to Growing Up LGBT in America— HRC’s groundbreaking research among more than 10,000 LGBT–identified youth ages 13 to 17.

All children have a right to learn in an environment free of harassment, and it is up to us to provide such an environment.

Hurtful teasing, name-calling and bullying affect the targets, the perpetrators and the bystanders. HRC’s Welcoming Schools program provides resources to help create a safe and welcoming school for all children and families. Learn more about our Welcoming Schools resources now.

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