NY governor signs Dignity for All Students Act

New York Gov. David Paterson today signed into law the Dignity for All Students Act, designed to protect students from bullying and harassment in schools. The law includes explicit protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. It is the first law in the Empire State to include gender identity and expression.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Empire State Pride Agenda sponsored the New York Power Summit in 2007, training lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates and educating New Yorkers on issues such as preventing harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.  The Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project also provided counsel on the issue. Task Force staff was present at today’s bill signing at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City.

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey talks about the importance of the measure:

For some young people, going to school is tantamount to a daily dose of torture. In too many cases, harassment, taunting and abuse are allowed to go on unabated in our nation’s schools. We have repeatedly seen the tragic consequences of this pervasive problem: young people are left emotionally damaged, physically hurt, or feel they have no other option than to take their own lives out of hopelessness and despair. Youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender — or simply perceived to be — are often the targets of this abuse. Today, New York said enough is enough.

We applaud the Dignity for All Students Act Coalition and other advocates who worked so tirelessly on this issue; state lawmakers for passing this legislation; and Gov. David Paterson for signing it into law. Safe schools for our young people should be the rule, not the exception.

Photos: Inga Sarda-Sorensen