Dignity For All Students Act
New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function. The law took effect on July 1, 2012, and was amended on July 1, 2013.
The legislation protects those who are subjected to intimidation or abuse based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. The Act explicitly states that bullying, taunting and intimidation are all forms of harassment. Harassment is defined as “creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being.
The Dignity Act require schools to:
• Develop policies intended to create a school environment that is free from discrimination or harassment.
• Develop guidelines for school training programs to discourage discrimination or harassment that are designed to raise awareness and sensitivity of school employees to potential discrimination or harassment, and enable employees to prevent and respond to discrimination or harassment.
• Develop guidelines relating to the development of non-discriminatory instructional and counseling methods and require that at least one staff member be trained to handle human relations issues.
One employee in every school building in North Colonie has been designated as a Dignity Act Coordinator, and has been trained in methods to respond to human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practices, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.