(Houston, TX) – Representatives Garnet Coleman and Jessica Farrar announced today that they would again file and work to pass the Dignity For All Students Act to prohibit discrimination or harassment against students and employees of Texas public schools. Recent news reports have highlighted the necessity for such legislation, including the most recent case of 13-year-old Asher Brown, who took his own life after enduring harassment and bullying at his school.
“Every student has the right to a public education, and every student has the right to a safe learning environment,” said Representative Coleman. “My heart breaks for Asher Brown and his family, and every victim of bullying that has to go to school in fear. I have filed this bill every legislative session since 2003. It is high time that we passed this bill before any more children are bullied to suicide or life changing emotional distress.”
The Dignity For All Students Act prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of ethnicity, color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin. Additionally, the bill prohibits discrimination based on association with a person, and protects both the parents of students and whistleblowers who may report incidents of discrimination or harassment.
“There are too many painful stories and tragic endings,” said Representative Farrar. “When schools turn a blind eye towards discrimination and harassment, we have failed. The Dignity for All Students Act will help set a tone in Texas that no type of discrimination will be tolerated in this state.”
The Dignity for All Students Act also directs Texas schools to take preventive steps by establishing a policy that includes LGBT youth that will help stem harassment before it becomes a problem. It provides for data reporting on incidents of harassment in public schools as well as requiring school districts to undergo training on how to respond to and prevent harassment and discrimination at school.
The 82nd Legislature begins January 11, 2011.