New York, NY, April 6, 2011 …. As part of a statewide task force charged with implementing a new law designed to protect New York's public school students from bullying and harassment, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) will convene with its coalition partners in Albany on April 8 to begin determining how best to put the law's provisions into effect.
The Dignity for All Students Act, which takes effect July 1, 2012, protects students from all forms of bullying and harassment, including "verbal threats, intimidation or abuse," based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, religious practice, weight, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. The protections are not limited to these categories.
"No child should ever be afraid to go to school because he or she feels they will be bullied or harassed," said Ron Meier, ADL New York Regional Director. "The Dignity Act empowers New York's educators to fulfill their responsibility to provide all students a safe and nurturing learning environment. However to fulfill its promise, the law must be effectively implemented in every school district in the state, and that is one of the issues on the agenda for our working groups in Albany."
The task force, established by the New York State Education Department, will address four key issue areas surrounding the new law, including: Local Policy and Implementation, Curriculum and Instructional Design, Professional Development, and State Policy and Implementation.
"Once properly implemented, the Dignity Act will create the framework for promoting a more positive school culture," added Jeffrey M. Parker, ADL New York Regional Board Chair. "It will do this through sensitivity and problem-solving training, providing teachers with the tools to recognize and respond to bullying, and requiring all students to participate in classroom curricula on diversity."
For nearly a decade, ADL's New York Region was a leading member of a coalition working in support of the Dignity Act. The bill was signed into law in 2010.
The Dignity Coalition members represented on the task force include the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Empire State Pride Agenda, the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy and the New York State United Teachers.