Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Wednesday joined 23 colleagues in introducing legislation aimed at reducing bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying, at colleges and universities around the country.
“Cyberbullying has escalated harassment to disturbing new heights, and we must act to decisively say that this behavior is not acceptable,” Merkley said. “I authored the Equality Act to protect the fundamental rights of LGBTQ Americans, and now we need to take an additional step to protect our children in college from malicious attacks based on who they are or who they love.”
“Schools should be places of learning, not places of bullying and discrimination. Every student, no matter their sexual orientation and gender identity, deserves a chance to pursue a higher education without fear for their safety,” Wyden said. “These changes are long overdue in the fight to ensure a safe and productive learning environment for all students, and against anti-LGBTQ harassment that persists on campuses across the country.”
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2019 would require institutions of higher education to establish policies to prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ability, religion, disability or sex—including sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill 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 died by suicide after his roommate and another student invaded his privacy and harassed him over the internet. One in five college students are victims of cyberbullying, and LGBTQ students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment as their peers.
In addition to Senators Merkley and Wyden, the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act is cosponsored by Senators Murray (D-WA), Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Duckworth (IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Hirono (D-HI), Klobuchar (D-MN), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (D-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Shaheen (D-NH), Smith (D-MN), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warren (D-MA), and Whitehouse (D-RI).
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Tyler Clementi Foundation, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, American Association of University Women (AAUW), GLSEN, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
To read a fact sheet about the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, click HERE.