Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón Reintroduce The Bipartisan STOP Bullying Act
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) announced the reintroduction of the State Taskforce Opportunity Program (STOP) Bullying Act anti-bullying bill. The STOP Bullying Act incentivizes the establishment of statewide anti-bullying task forces to study, address, and reduce bullying in primary and secondary schools. It specifically addresses bullying of LGBTQ students and is endorsed by GSLEN.
“Schools must be places of learning and growth, but that is impossible when children don’t feel safe,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. “I’ve reintroduced the STOP Bullying Act because bullying in schools continues to be a problem that threatens the education and well-being of our children. The creation of anti-bullying task forces is a proven answer for addressing these problems, and the new task forces that our legislation establishes will help encourage acceptance of all students regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.”
“As the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Puerto Rico, I worked on legislation to promote a safe education environment free of bullying and cyberbullying,” said Jenniffer González-Colón. “The STOP Bullying Act will establish a federal grant program through the Department of Education that will award grants to states to establish anti-bullying and harassment task forces. This program will help create safe environments that foster the education of our children to meet their needs. I thank all my colleagues who are part of this effort. "
Specifically, the STOP Bullying Act:
- Establishes a federal grant program through the Department of Education that would award grants to states to establish anti-bullying task forces.
- Each task force shall convene educators and community leaders in order to evaluate and strengthen prevention efforts at elementary and secondary schools.
- The chair of the taskforce will be designated by the Chief Education Officer of the state.
- The task force must be comprised of at least one of each of the following: teachers at elementary and secondary schools, school administrators, parents, K-12 students, guidance counselors, child psychologists, school psychologists, lawyers, representatives and professionals from organizations that specialize in supportive services to students who identify as LGBTQ+, representatives from the State Education Agency focused on school improvement.
- Each task force should coordinate their activities with other boards and commission within the state to ensure consistency and positive outcomes for students.
- Each task force shall submit a final report to the Chief Education Officer of the state and the Secretary of Education with the findings and conclusions of the task force, legislative recommendations, and best practices to reduce bullying and educate parents and school staff.
This bill will empower and provide the structure states need in order to create effective and long-lasting anti-bullying policies to address each of their unique environments surrounding bullying on school grounds. The STOP Bullying Act builds on the models of thirteen states and the District of Columbia that have convened anti-bullying and harassment task forces to assess and strengthen bullying prevention programs. The STOP Bullying Act incentivizes the creation of an anti-bullying taskforce in each state, thus making schools safer for all children. We continue to learn how the existence of commissions or task forces at the state level can provide long-term benefits, allowing flexibility to states to work on the specific needs of their school districts.
The legislation is endorsed by GLSEN, an education organization working to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and to prompt LGBTQ cultural inclusion and awareness in K-12 schools.
“We applaud Congressman Krishnamoorthi’s leadership on providing communities with the resources they need to make schools safer for all students, particularly LGBTQ+ students who are transgender, nonbinary, Black, Indigenous, people of color, and people with disabilities,” said GLSEN Deputy Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers. “During this time of mass disruption and trauma when students’ wellbeing and educational opportunities are at even greater risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism, it’s imperative that communities experiencing the greatest impacts have seats at decision making tables across the country. By establishing a program that facilitates collaboration between educators and communities on how to meet the challenges of this moment we can help ensure that our most disadvantaged students can thrive and reach their full potential.”
“Hostile conditions in school settings can have a negative impact on the psychological well-being, social and emotional development, and academic achievement of children. This is particularly pernicious for students from marginalized groups, such as LBGTQ+ students, students of color, or those with a disability.” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “APA applauds Representative Krishnamoorthi for introducing legislation that would help ensure a positive and safe school climate for every student and recognizes the critical role psychologists play in achieving this goal.”
“School psychologists play a critical role in ensuring all children feel safe and supported in schools, including through preventing bullying,” said Dr. Kathleen Minke, National Association of School Psychologists Executive Director. “NASP is proud to endorse the Stop Bullying Act, which will give schools the resources and structure needed to prevent bullying in our schools. "
The STOP Bullying Act is endorsed by other organizations, including: American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, Athlete Ally, Bayard Rustin Liberation Initiative, Center for Disability Rights, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, EDGE Consulting Partners, Education Law Center, Equality California, Equality North Carolina, Family Equality, FORGE, Inc., Girls, Inc., GLSEN, Hindu American Foundation, Howard Brown Health, Human Rights Campaign, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE), National Education Association, National Equality Action Team (NEAT), National Women’s Law Center, PFLAG National, Public Justice, Sandy Hook Promise, Sikh Coalition, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), Silver State Equality-Nevada, The Trevor Project.