New York, NY – In response to recent cases of bullying and harassment against the LGBT community, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced a comprehensive plan to combat bias, prejudice and hate, particularly among youth. The multi-pronged approach focuses attention on students and young New Yorkers, teaching them tolerance and what to do when faced with bullying.
“The recent deaths across the country that have happened as a result of anti-LGBT bullying are truly heartbreaking,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “As the loss of these innocent young lives reminds us, we must remain diligent in our efforts to combat bullying and promote tolerance. Just as children can learn bigotry and intolerance, so too can they learn to value diversity and acceptance. Our work to end senseless hate continues on, and our efforts are all the stronger as we remember the lives that have been lost.”
Coaltion of City Universities
Speaker Quinn, City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and New York University President John Sexton invited leaders of the City’s other higher education institutions to meet for a discussion about how to collectively ensure that campuses are safe and supportive environments for all students. In the wake of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi’s suicide, new attention has been raised about the deadly consequences vicious bullying can have. We will take this opportunity to share best practices and successful programmatic models so that we can all learn from each other and lend our collective efforts to ensuring that our students have available to them the resources and support they need when in distress. We also want to discuss what steps other institutions, civic groups and government leaders can take to help advance our efforts.
“We need to ensure that New York’s colleges and universities are places where students come and excel in a safe learning environment. ,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “No student should have to worry about being bullied or harassed because of who they are. It is incumbent upon our leadership to ensure that these spaces are safe for all young people.”
The City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said, “At The City University of New York, we serve students who trace their ancestry to over 205 countries. We are eager to work with our colleagues from New York’s higher education institutions to build on our current practices that encourage mutual respect, tolerance, civility and a genuine appreciation of the rights of all members of our college communities.”
NYU President John Sexton said, “If there is a lesson I’ve drawn from my decades of teaching young people, it is that what we in a university community share in common with one another is far more powerful than what separates us. Perhaps we may all find some small comfort in knowing that this young man’s death, which so shocks and saddens us, will be the catalyst for an important conversation across campuses reminding us of our common nature and our common values, and of the need to be supportive and caring of one another, especially in moments of distress.”
Respect For All Program Reinforced
In his weekly email to school principals, Chancellor Joel Klein urged them to have open conversations in their school communities about the impact of bias, bullying and harassment. He reminded them to utilize Respect for All education materials in the classrooms. Created by Speaker Quinn and the DOE in 2007, Respect for All is a bullying prevention program that helps raise awareness and teach students how to address with bullying and harassment. In June, the City Council announced an extra $300,000 in funding for the anti-bullying curriculum.
The program will kick-off its second year run on February 14th. The official Respect for All week is designed to provide focused lessons on diversity and inclusion. Schools are also encouraged to include the program’s education in their curriculum year round.
The City Council is actively pushing Congress to take action on two pieces of critical anti-bullying legislation. Together, the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act would make discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression a crime and would require schools that receive federal funding to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Neither bill has reached the floor for a vote. The Council will introduce a resolution calling on Congress to pass both measures.
The “It Gets Better” Project
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, openly-gay Council Members Daniel Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer and Rosie Mendez and Education Committee Chair Rober Jackson joined the “It Gets Better” Project, a YouTube campaign that provides support for LGBT youth. Each video on the site is delivered to reach youth who are in need of support. The videos submitted by the Speaker and Council Members can be found on the City Council’s YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/nyccouncil.