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The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would require colleges and universities receiving federal student aid funding to enact an anti-harassment policy.
Numerous studies have shown that bullying and harassment are widespread throughout college and university campuses in our country. Those subject to this harassment are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and lower academic achievement. According to a 2010 study by Campus Pride, LGBTQ college students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment when compared to their non-LGBTQ peers. Despite such statistics, there is no federal requirement that colleges and universities have policies to protect their students from harassment.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would require colleges and universities receiving federal student aid funding to enact an anti-harassment policy. Specifically, the legislation would require policies that prohibit harassment of enrolled students by other students, faculty, and staff based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, or religion and would require colleges to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees upon request. It would explicitly prohibit behavior often referred to as cyberbullying.
The bill would also create a competitive grant program at the Department of Education through which institutions can apply for funding to initiate, expand, or improve programs that prevent the harassment of students; provide counseling to victims or perpetrators; or educate or train students, faculty, and staff about ways to prevent or address harassment.
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 being intimate in his dorm room with another male. After his roommate attempted to stream another such interaction a few days later, Tyler ended his life.
Numerous legal, civil rights, and educational organizations support the bill, including the Tyler Clementi Foundation, National Women’s Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, American Association of University Women, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Center for Transgender Equality, GLSEN, and the Trevor Project.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and in the Senate by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on May 15, 2019. Portions of the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act were included in H.R. 4674, the College Affordability Act, a bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
What is the Current Status?
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act has not yet been reintroduced in the 117th Congress.
Last Updated: March 13, 2021