U.S. Dept. of Ed: Bullying Can Violate Anti-Discrimination Laws

WASHINGTON — The Department of Education issued guidance yesterday to support educators in combating bullying in schools. It clarified when student bullying may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws. The guidance also makes clear that while current laws enforced by the department do not protect against harassment based on religion or sexual orientation, they do include protection against harassment of members of religious groups based on shared ethnic characteristics as well as gender and sexual harassment of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals.

The guidance, which comes in the form of a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to schools, colleges and universities, explains educators’ legal obligations to protect students from student-on-student racial and national origin harassment, sexual and gender-based harassment, and disability harassment. The letter provides examples of harassment and illustrates how a school should respond in each case.

Following the release of this guidance, the department plans to hold technical assistance workshops around the country in early 2011 to help educators better understand their obligations and the resources available to take prompt and effective steps that will end harassment and bullying in schools and on college campuses.

Department of Education Guidance to Schools on Bullying

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