The Miami-Dade County Public School System, the fourth biggest school system in the nation, has adopted new rules meant to specifically protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students from harassment. The School Board amended a state law passed three years ago, the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, that prohibits bullying and harassment of all students to include the specific language protecting GLBT students.
"The most common forms of bullying and harassment in Florida schools, and across the country, are based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical appearance," said Shelbi Day, ACLU of Florida LGBT Project Attorney, in a press release. "Although the state anti-bullying law clearly prohibits bullying and harassment of any students, it is imperative that individual school district policies make clear that bullying and harassment of LGBT students is prohibited and will not be tolerated. This is a critical step in making Florida schools truly safe for all students."
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The newly adopted policy reads as follows:
"Bullying, Harassment, Cyberbullying, and Discrimination (as referred to and defined herein) encompasses, but is not limited to, unwanted harm towards a student or employee based on or with regard to actual or perceived: sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability (physical, mental, or educational), marital status, socio-economic background, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, linguistic preference, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or social/family background. This policy prohibits bullying or harassment of any student by any Board member, District employee, consultant, contractor, agent, visitor, volunteer, student, or other person in the school or outside of the school at school-sponsored events, on school buses, and at training facilities or training programs sponsored by the District."
A recent survey found that nearly nine in 10 GLBT students across America are the victim of school bullying.