December 3, 2007
Kansas lawmakers passed a law "requiring schools to adopt policies prohibiting bullying on school property or vehicles and at school-sponsored activities. The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, also requires districts to implement anti-bullying plans that include training and education for staff and students." See The Wichita Eagle, Taking a Stand Against Bullying (12/3/07).
Student bullying is often aimed at LGBT youth, who are just starting (in many cases) to learn about their own sexual orientation. It is crucial to protect all students from bullying during their developmental years, when such name-calling and harassment can negatively stunt emotional development.
This law is a step in the right direction. As the National Center for Lesbian Rights makes clear, a school might be held liable under state and federal anti-discrimination laws for failing to prevent or stop bullying against LGBT youth. See NCLR's Publication entitled "Fifteen Expensive Reasons Why Safe Schools Legislation is in Your State's Best Interest" (noting that in a sampling of 15 cases brought against school districts for failing to protect a child against sexual orientation discrimination, the school district either settled out of court or lost at trial).
Thus, guidance from the state legislature regarding appropriate non-discrimination policies is very helpful in avoiding potential liability and protecting our youth (which is, in and of itself, a worthy goal).
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