Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) last week re-introduced anti-bullying legislation that includes protections for LGBT students.

Casey, along with co-prime sponsor Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), submitted the Safe Schools Improvement Act last Thursday. The bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to require schools in states funded by the ESEA to adopt anti-bullying policies that explicitly prohibit harassment based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Casey introduced the bill in the last three sessions of Congress.

“Bullying is a challenge that impacts far too many children and families across the country,” Casey said in a statement. “Right now only 17 states have anti-bullying laws that contain protections for members of the LGBT community. That has to change.”

In addition to mandating codes of conduct, the SSIA also would require states to collect data on bullying and harassment and report it annually to the Department of Education, which would then be tasked with submitting a report on nationwide bullying every two years to Congress.

“With the advent of text messaging, social media and social networking, many children find they cannot escape the harassment when they go home at night,” Casey said. “It follows them from the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep. This legislation will ensure that school districts across the country take proactive steps to combat bullying and protect children.”

Dr. Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, commended the lawmakers for again leading the charge for the legislation.

“We have long worked with Sens. Casey and Kirk to make SSIA — our most significant legislative priority in Congress — a reality,” Byard said. “We thank them for their ongoing leadership and again look forward to working with them and their colleagues in Congress to make these protections and local supports a reality for schools and students across the country.” 

From our media partner PGN