U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), reintroduced legislation aimed at reducing 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 2017 would require 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 legislation 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.
Lawmakers are deeply concerned with the rise of hateful and intimidating incidents spreading throughout college campuses nationwide, including actions undertaken by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to withdraw guidance pertaining to discrimination against transgender students under Title IX of the education amendments of 1972, and the appointment of people to lead the Office for Civil Rights at the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services who apparently disagree or outright oppose the mission or role of the office and have advocated against the policy they now must enforce.
“No student should have to live in fear of being who they are. Our schools should not be, and cannot be, places of discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation or violence,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation, named in honor of Tyler Clementi, 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. Everyone at colleges and universities across America should be able to pursue their dreams free of harassment and bullying.”
“Especially now, with a bully-in-chief in the White House, we need to make it clearer than ever that this kind of behavior simply should not be accepted,” said Senator Murray. “No student should ever have to fear discrimination and harassment in their pursuit of education, no matter who they are, what they believe, or who they love. President Trump may have won the election, but I am going to keep fighting to make it clear that bullies will not win and bullying will not be tolerated. I made a promise to families like Tyler’s, to keep fighting to protect our students, and I’m going to keep fighting for policies like this no matter how hard President Trump pushes us the other way.”
“No student should be harassed for who they are, or who they love,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “Bullying is a real and persistent danger for many LGBTQ students at our colleges and universities, but there is no federal legislation that specifically protects students from being targeted based on sexual orientation or gender identity. President Trump has not yet shown that his Administration will defend the rights of LGBTQ students. That’s why this bill is so important, as it ensures that institutions of higher learning are a place of open expression, which celebrate diversity and embrace students from all different backgrounds.”
“We are grateful for the continual support from Senators Murray, Baldwin, and Representative Pocan as they reintroduce the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act to protect students from the harmful effects of bullying in institutions of higher education. Their commitment to join with us to make all institutions of higher education safe places to learn and thrive is commendable,” said Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “I believe this bill will allow institutions of higher education to take a fresh look and reexamine their policies and procedures that are and are not in place. We must continue to provide safe and supportive learning environments for all students in all learning environments including higher education.”
“No student should be bullied or made to feel unsafe in the place they should feel the most secure — their college or university,” said Chad Griffin, HRC President. “Senator Murray, Senator Baldwin, and Representative Pocan are committed to helping our young people thrive in an inclusive and supportive education environment, and we thank them for their unwavering leadership in championing this bill which will undoubtedly save lives and make our colleges and universities better and safer places.”
“LGBTQ college students, like all students, deserve safe, affirming, and inclusive campuses in which to learn and excel,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “GLSEN is incredibly thankful to Sens. Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Mark Pocan for again reintroducing the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act to help ensure all college students have access to safe and inclusive campuses. We look forward to working with members of Congress to pass this critically important bill.”
“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 support for victims of harassment is sorely needed,” said Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program and President-Elect, National Women’s Law Center.
Read more about the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2017 here.