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Governor signs anti-bullying bill backed by UFT into law

Michael Mulgrew with state legislators and city elected officials. Miller Photography

With state legislators, city elected officials and leaders of civil rights and civil liberties groups behind him, Mulgrew praised passage of the anti-bullying Dignity for All Students Act as "something that will lead the next generation to a better place than we ever were."

Gov. David Paterson signs the anti-bullying bill into law. Miller Photography

Gov. David Paterson signs the anti-bullying bill into law.

A state law aimed at ending bullying in the schools was signed into law on Sept. 7 by Gov. Paterson, who congratulated his legislative colleagues for "taking bullying out of the schools and putting it where it belongs: in the legislature."

At the signing ceremony, Paterson introduced UFT President Michael Mulgrew as "the most important speaker" of the day because, as he explained, it is teachers who will be instrumental in seeing the law succeed. “The UFT and NYSUT didn't just buy into the legislation, they led the fight," the governor said.

Mulgrew said that "bullying isn't just 'kids being kids,' because what happens affects their whole lives," adding that "the bill allows the next generation to be better than we were."

State Senator Tom Duane, the bill's Senate sponsor, said that the bill aimed to alleviate a problem and that its sponsors were at pains to "ensure that First Amendment rights are not impinged upon" in the process of ending the victimization of children.

Also present at the signing of the Dignity for All Students Act, held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on West 13th Street, were leaders of civic groups, state officials and elected officials instrumental in its passage. These included Manhattan Assemblyman and bill sponsor Daniel O'Donnell and colleague Richard Gottfried, Donna Lieberman from the New York Civil Liberties Union, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Comptroller John Liu,  Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross Levi, Commissioner Galen Kirkland of the state's Division of Human Rights and NYSUT Executive VP Andy Pallotta.

The bill will protect students from harassment and discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, weight, disability, sexual orientation, gender and other characteristics. The law, which will be operational within two years, will "develop rules preventing and responding to discriminatory harassment and hate violence; establish teacher, staff and administrative training guidelines; incorporate discrimination awareness into civility and character education curricula; and require reporting of incidents of bias harassment to the state DOE."

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