(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), along with Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), reintroduced legislation aimed at reducing dangerous bullying and harassment that affects one in five students at colleges and universities across the country. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2015 requires institutions of higher education to establish policies to prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. The bill also establishes a grant program to support campus anti-harassment activities and programs. The legislation is named after Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University who took his own life after his roommate and another student invaded his privacy and harassed him over the Internet.
“All students deserve the chance to further their education, without the fear of harassment and bullying,” Senator Murray said. “LGBT students are more likely to be harassed in school, yet there is no federal requirement for colleges and universities to protect their students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I am proud that this bill would take meaningful steps to provide schools and students with tools to prevent harassment and protect survivors. By honoring Tyler’s life with this legislation, we can work to prevent the bullying that far too many students are forced to endure.”
“No student should have to live in fear of being who they are. Our schools should not be, and cannot be a place of discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation or violence. This legislation is an important step forward in not only preventing harassment on campus, but also making sure our students have the freedom to succeed in safe and healthy communities of learning and achievement,” said Senator Baldwin. “Everyone deserves a fair shot at our colleges and universities across America and this legislation will help ensure people can pursue their dreams free of harassment and bullying.”
“Bullying is a real and persistent danger for far too many students at our colleges and universities and too many of these students are targeted for their sexual orientation,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “This bill ensures no student has to suffer the humiliation of being harassed for who they are, or who they love. Institutions of higher learning should be a place of open expression, which celebrate diversity and embrace students from all different backgrounds.”
“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,” said Jane Clementi, Founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Tyler’s mother.
Read more about the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act here.
The legislation has received support from advocates and organizations including: Human Rights Campaign, The Anti-Defamation League, the National Women’s Law Center, the American Association for University Women, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National LGBTQ Task Force Action, and Pride Foundation.
“All students deserve to learn in environments free from harassment,” said David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director. “We applaud Senator Murray, Senator Baldwin, and Representative Pocan for their unwavering leadership and commitment to passing protections that will help save lives and promote fairness and equality at colleges and universities across the country.”
“Working to create safe, inclusive schools and communities is a top priority for the Anti-Defamation League. Cyberbullying is on the rise, as an increasing number of youth are misusing Internet and cell phone technology to bully, harass, and even incite violence against others. Colleges need to be given the tools and training necessary to combat this harassment and create safe communities for students. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act is an important step forward towards that goal and we will be working to support its enactment.” – Hilary G. Bernstein, Regional Director, Pacific Northwest, Anti-Defamation League
“This bill is an important step forward in combatting harassment on college campuses. A federal requirement that institutions of higher education have comprehensive anti-harassment policies is long overdue, and a grant program to support prevention and training programs and student services is much needed.” – Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education & Employment at the National Women’s Law Center
“GLSEN thanks Sens. Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Mark Pocan for reintroducing the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act and for their ongoing commitment to ensuring that all college students have access to safe and welcoming campuses,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “LGBT college students, like all members of the higher education community, have the right to feel safe and supported as they navigate their way through their education. We look forward to working with members of Congress in the coming months to make these policy ideas a reality.”
“Not a single student should ever live in fear of being harassed or physically assaulted while trying to get an education. As lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, we know all too well what it means to be targeted, to be discriminated against, and to lack basic protections. And while LGBTQ youth—particularly LGBTQ youth of color—face higher rates of harassment and discrimination at school, bullying is an epidemic that affects us all as a nation. Everyone has a part to play in ending bullying. From the classroom to the corridors of power—we ask everyone to join us in creating a welcoming and safe educational experience for every student in America,” said Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund Executive Director.
“As Tyler Clementi’s story shows us, people’s lives are at stake if we do not find ways to adapt schools and their policies to support LGBTQ students in being their full selves,” said Kris Hermanns, Executive Director of Pride Foundation. “This bill demonstrates that LGBTQ students matter, while also providing teachers and administrators the necessary support to intervene and protect students from harassment and cyberbullying. On behalf of our community, I would like to thank Senator Murray for being a champion on this issue and for working to ensure that school is a welcoming and safe place for all.”
Read the full legislative text here.