Sánchez, Katko, and Takano Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Anti-Bullying Legislation

July 1, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), and Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) today along with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Human Rights Campaign, introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. This legislation would require school districts to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. Companion legislation is expected to be filed in the U.S. Senate by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).

Rep. Linda T. Sánchez: “Our kids should be able to wake up and go to school every day without fear of being bullied when they get there. The Safe Schools Improvement Act will help deliver an educational environment that is free of harassment for every single one of our students. As a mother, I know this bill will bring peace of mind to parents, teachers, school administrators and staff, and I know it will make a difference for countless students in school hallways across the country. I thank Representative John Katko, Representative Mark Takano, Senator Bob Casey, the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for joining me in standing up for safer schools.”

Rep. Mark Takano, LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Co-Chair: “Every student deserves to learn without fear, but schools are often not safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth who face higher rates of bullying or harassment. That is why we must take the steps necessary to empower educators and equip schools with the tools they need to support LGBTQ+ students and combat discrimination in the classroom. As a former teacher and co-Chair of the Equality Caucus, I’m proud to be teaming up with Rep. Sánchez and Rep. Katko to introduce the Safe Schools Improvement Act.”

Senator Bob Casey: “Children deserve to go to school without fear or intimidation. Bullying and harassment affects far too many children with serious negative impacts on their mental and physical health, emotional well-being and academic achievement. With text messaging, social media and ever increasing virtual interactions, many children find they cannot escape the harassment when they go home at night. It follows them from the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep. This commonsense legislation will ensure that schools districts across the country take proactive steps to combat bullying and protect children.” 

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, GLSEN Interim Executive Director: “Thank-you to Senator Casey, Representatives Sánchez, Katko, and Takano for their leadership on this critically important legislation. Today, only 21 states, DC, and Puerto Rico have enumerated anti-bullying and harassment laws that specifically protect youth who are LGBTQ+, transgender, nonbinary, Black, Indigenous, people of color, and people with disabilities. The Safe Schools Improvement Act will empower schools across the country to collaborate with communities to prevent and more effectively respond to incidents of bullying and harassment, including establishing restorative discipline practices that will decrease the likelihood of youth entering the school to prison pipeline. This bill is needed now more than ever during this moment of mass disruption and trauma when all young people should be safe in K-12 learning communities.”

David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign: “All students — regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion — should be able to learn in safe and supportive schools, free of bullying and harassment. The Human Rights Campaign applauds Representatives Sánchez, Katko, and Takano and Senator Casey for introducing the Safe Schools Improvement Act. LGBTQ youth are especially vulnerable to exclusion, discrimination, and violence, and this legislation is an important step in ensuring that our nation’s schools are accepting of students from diverse backgrounds and identities. The Human Rights Campaign urges Congress to pass this important bill.”

Representatives signed on to the Safe Schools Improvement Act as original co-sponsors include: Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Paul D. Tonko (D-NY), Brenden F. Boyle (D-PA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Val Demings (D-FL), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Peter Welch (D-VT), William R. Keating (D-MA), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), André Carson (D-IN), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Deborah K. Ross (D-NC), Marie Newman (D-IL), Nikema Williams (D-GA), David Trone (D-MD), Angie Craig (D-MN), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Tom O’ Halleran (D-AZ), John B. Larson (D-CT), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), and Albio Sires (D-NJ).

You can read the full bill text of the Safe Schools Improvement Act here.

 

Background

The Safe Schools Improvement Act has garnered support from nearly 100 organizations, including the National PTA; the American Federation of Teachers; the American Library Association; Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network; the Human Rights Campaign; Unidos; the Anti-Defamation League; and the American Unity Fund.

Since coming to Congress, Congresswoman Sánchez has been recognized as a leader in working to make schools safe for all students. The Safe Schools Improvement Act was first introduced in the 110th Congress.

 

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