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Safe School Laws are state-wide legislations which ensure that all students and teachers are protected from bullying and harassment in educational institutions. These laws seek to ensure that students and educators are not discriminated against, stigmatized, or verbally or physically assaulted. Through Safe School Laws, educational institutions hope to create an environment where students can learn and teachers can teach without fear or anxiety.
Controversy has surrounded Safe School Laws, as many people feel that Safe School Laws do not ensure the safety of students and teachers with particular sexual orientations or gender identities, and do little to protect the LGBT community or anyone thought to be part of it.
Almost every American state and district has passed a Safe School Law to protect its students and teachers from bullying and harassment. Yet many feel that these laws do not go far enough to protect LGBT individuals or people perceived to be part of the LGBT community.
Research from the Movement Advancement Project found that 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws which prohibit bullying on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Five states and the District of Columbia prohibit bullying on the basis of associating with someone whose sexual orientation and gender identity is outside the norm. A whopping 25 states have no laws protecting LGBT students. Disturbingly, 43 percent of America's LGBT population lives in these states.
The problem may not lie with the schools, but with state governments. Few safe school laws are funded, so educators receive little to no support in implementing the laws or preventing and/or reducing incidents of bullying. Because of this, even when laws exist to explicitly protect LGBT individuals or people presumed to be LGBT, these laws are unfortunately often not enforced.