FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2010

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Hails Governor Paterson's Planned Signing Today of Dignity for All Students Act

Bill To Become First-Ever New York State Law to Include Protections for Transgender People


NEW YORK, NEW YORK - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) hails New York State Gov. David A. Paterson's planned signing today of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), an anti-bullying bill designed to protect students from bullying and harassment on the basis of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation and other protected categories. Once signed into law by Governor Paterson, DASA will become New York State's first-ever law to include specific protections for transgender people.

Today's signing ceremony will be held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, New York, New York at 11 am.  It follows DASA's passage earlier this year by a vote of 58-3 in the Senate and 138-4 in the Assembly.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students face tremendous amounts of bullying and harassment in New York schools.  We applaud Governor Paterson for taking this tremendous step to protect vulnerable students from the discrimination that can undermine their ability to succeed in the educational system and beyond," Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Executive Director Michael Silverman said.  "We should all be proud of New York's achievement in moving to protect students who just want an equal shot at an education."

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in New York experience bullying and harassment at alarming rates. One recent survey conducted by GLSEN found that 79% had been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation and 62% had been verbally harassed because of how they expressed their gender.

The Dignity for All Students Act would allow teachers, parents, students, and school administrators to address bullying and bias-related behavior of all kinds that interfere with student safety and learning.  The Act will foster the development of rules to prevent and respond to discriminatory harassment and hate violence.  It will establish teacher, staff and administrative training guidelines.  Discrimination awareness will be incorporated into civility and character education curricula.  And incidents of bias harassment will have to be reported to the State Education Department.

In addition to protecting students on the basis of gender identity and expression and sexual orientation, the Dignity for All Students Act protects students on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, weight and disability.

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