THE Governor of the US state of Minnesota recently signed into law an anti-bullying bill that specifically included provisions for LGBTI students across the public and private school systems.

The far-reaching law includes 19 bullying categories, from physical appearance to welfare families to sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, GLSEN, the passage of this bill means that 16 states across the US as well as Washington D.C, have passed anti-bullying laws that protect LGBTI students amongst others in both state and privately run schools.

During a legislative session that ran late into the night of April 8, the bill provoked accusations of “facism” and “1984” Orwellian-style politics from many within the predominantly-Republican opposition, according to the St Paul Pioneer Press.

In a speech after signing ceremony, Governor Mark Dayton reiterated his support for the legislation, which reportedly came from a task force that he formed in regards to education and anti-bullying practices in 2012.

“Nobody in this state or this nation should have to feel bad about themselves for being who they are,” he said.

While states across the US are gradually moving on legislation that addresses LGBTI bullying within their education systems, there have been concerns raised over recent months that Australian schools are lagging behind.

In a statement to the Star Observer earlier this year, Mel Smith from the NSW Teachers’ Federation Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group stated that the NSW Government needed to do more for vulnerable students, as a part of its Proud Schools program.

“The NSWTF has called on the Department of Education and Communities to update policies and advice to workplaces that address issues related to people of diverse sexuality and gender and to provide explicit direction for primary, high and central schools on their responsibility to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia through whole school programs at all levels of schooling,” Smith said.

“Given the high levels of homophobia reported in research such as Writing Themselves In 3 and Growing Up Queer, it seems that the current practices are not enough and the (Education Department) needs to do more to support schools explicating regarding LGBTI issues.”

 

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