Democrat Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and lead co-sposnor Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, along with 17 other co-sponsors today introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. According to a press release from the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the bill is the first time a Senate bill with bipartisan support has specifically addressed bullying and harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat, is expected to introduce a similar bipartisan bill in the House in the coming weeks.
GLSEN said no federal law or policy exists so far requiring schools to adopt policies addressing bullying. Such laws at the state level vary greatly from state to state. Anti-bullying legislation introduced in this session of the Texas Legislature recently had enumerated lists of protected classes, including sexual orientation and actual or perceived gender identity and expression, removed to make it more palatable to right-wing conservatives who control both legislative houses.
Although versions of the Safe Schools Improvement Act have been introduced in previous congressional sessions, this bill introduced today is the first to specifically address cyber-bullying, according to a report by the Washington Blade.