Md. Gov. Signs
Inclusive Bully Law
From the Web. May 14,
Annapolis, Maryland --
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed into law one of the nation's most
sweeping laws against bullying, aimed at protecting all students, including
those who are LGBT.
The new law requires state and county school boards to develop policies that ban
bullying. It mandates counseling to offered to both the victim and the bully.
And it extends not only to school property but also electronic devices,
including cell phones, computers or pagers.
The law makes Maryland just the 11th state to protect students from bullying and
harassment based on sexual orientation and only the seventh to protect students
on the basis of gender identity or expression.
"This is a historic day for Maryland students,” said Kevin Jennings, the
Executive Director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
"Feeling safe in school is directly related to academic achievement and student
success. This law is an important step in reducing bullying, improving
school climate and making school better for all Maryland students.”
A GLSEN survey released in 2005 found that bullying and verbal harassment is a
national problem across the country.
The National School Climate Survey found that three-quarters of students
surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory
remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly
nine out of ten reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" -- meaning
stupid or worthless -- frequently or often.
Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on
the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter on the basis of their
Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because
of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.
Passage of the Maryland law was the culmination of several years work by both
GLSEN and Equality Maryland to build bipartisan support.
"It’s crucial that Maryland take bolder steps to address bullying, harassment
and intimidation of our students, and this is a good step in making sure schools
in no way gloss over the harassment, threats and violence directed specifically
at LGBT and questioning youth," said Dan Furmansky, Executive Director of
Besides Maryland, the 10 other states to include protection for sexual
orientation in a safe schools law are California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
Only California, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey and Vermont also include