Governor of New York David Paterson signed the Dignity for All Students Act on Wednesday, protecting students – including LGBT students – from bullying and harassment in schools.
The first New York law that includes protections for gender identity and expression, was initially passed by the state senate in June after the Assembly had approved the bill nine times since it was first introduced in 2002 by openly gay Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell.
The Dignity for All Students Act also protects students on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, religious practice, weight and disability. It requires schools to report bias-related incidents to the State Education Department.
“Too many students are bullied based on real or perceived differences with their classmates,” O’Donnell said in a statement. “Every student deserves an environment free of harassment, and environment that allows every child to reach his or her full potential. For too long, our educational system has been blind to the plight of these students. I am proud that the Assembly led the way on this important issue, and that today, the Dignity for All Students Act is finally signed into law.”