September 24, 2021

Senator Hassan, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Address Campus Bullying and Harassment

Legislation Would Require Colleges and Universities to Establish Policies to Prohibit Harassment Based on Actual or Perceived Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Disability, or Religion

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined colleagues in introducing the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2021, legislation to address bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying, at colleges and universities around the country. The bill’s re-introduction and Senator Hassan’s cosponsorship comes during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and the anniversary of the death of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, who lost his life to suicide in 2010 after his roommate and another student invaded his privacy and harassed him due to his sexual orientation.

 

The bill would require colleges and universities to establish policies to prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion, and require schools to recognize “cyberbullying” as a form of harassment.

 

“All students deserve to feel safe in school and fully included in campus life, yet the reality is that far too many still face discrimination for who they are - including for who they love. We cannot let that stand,” said Senator Hassan. “Schools can and must do better, and this legislation takes a step forward to make sure colleges and universities take seriously the threat of harassment and establish policies to make sure schools never become a safe haven for bigotry or discrimination.”

                                                      

Bullying and harassment can have severe consequences for students’ mental health, and the pandemic compounded existing mental health challenges. In fact, throughout the pandemic, 65% of LGBTQIA+ college students faced moderate or severe mental health challenges—and 22% felt that they had no social or emotional support system.

 

The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2021 would help address campus bullying and harassment and keep students safe by:

  • requiring all colleges and universities receiving federal aid to prohibit the harassment of enrolled students based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion;
  • requiring school to recognize “cyberbullying” as a form of harassment; and
  • creating a grant program to help colleges and universities start or expand programs to prevent harassment and provide counseling services to students who have experienced harassment.

 

Senator Hassan is working across the aisle to prevent suicide and strengthen mental health supports. The President recently signed into law a bipartisan bill cosponsored by Senator Hassan to authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a pilot program on dog training therapy and provide service dogs to veterans with mental health challenges. Senator Hassan also recently introduced a bipartisan bill to improve maternal mental health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum patients, including working to address postpartum depression and anxiety, and maternal suicide – which is a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States. Senators Hassan and Ernst are also working together to combat veterans suicide, and introduced a bipartisan bill to direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to designate one week per year as “Buddy Check Week” to organize outreach events and educate veterans on how to conduct peer wellness check.

 

The legislation has been endorsed by: Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Clementi Family Foundation, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), and the Trevor Project.

 

To read the fact sheet of the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, click HERE.

 

To read the full bill text, click HERE.

 

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