As Bullying on Campus Remains Widespread—Particularly for LGBTQ+ Students—Murray, Baldwin, Pocan Renew Push to Pass Anti-Harassment Legislation
On anniversary of Tyler Clementi’s 2010 death, lawmakers renew effort to pass the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act
Legislation would finally require colleges and universities to establish policies to prohibit harassment and cyberbulling—including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2023 to help prevent bullying and harassment at colleges and universities around the country. The bill would finally require colleges and universities receiving federal support to establish anti-harassment policies to prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion, and it would require schools to recognize “cyberbullying” as a form of harassment.
Today marks the anniversary of the death of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, who tragically lost his life to suicide in 2010 after his roommate and another student invaded his privacy and harassed him over his sexual orientation.
“Every student deserves a safe and supportive learning environment—but bullying and harassment on college campuses remains widespread, especially for LGBTQ+ students, and federal law doesn’t currently require schools to adopt comprehensive anti-harassment policies,” said Senator Murray. “Establishing strong anti-harassment policies will help make sure every student can pursue a higher education free from bullying and discrimination. I’m proud to honor Tyler Clementi’s life by renewing our push to pass this critical legislation.”
“No one should live in fear of being bullied just because of who they are, especially in our schools,” said Senator Baldwin. “In the face of increased harassment and discrimination, particularly against members of the LGBTQ+ community, our legislation makes crystal clear that kind of hate has no place on our college campuses or universities. All students deserve to have the freedom to succeed in a safe and healthy place and pursue their dreams, free of discrimination.”
“No one should be bullied or harassed because of who they are or who they love,” said Representative Pocan. “Today we honor Tyler’s life by reintroducing the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act to ensure that students can learn in peace and not have to worry about living in fear or humiliation for being themselves.”
Students across the country continue to face widespread bullying and harassment on college campuses, and LGBTQ+ students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment in higher education. A report published last year found that one-third of LGBTQ+ students at four-year colleges were bullied, harassed, or assaulted, and 19% of their non-LGBTQ+ peers were similarly mistreated. This widespread harassment has detrimental effects on student’s wellbeing and educational opportunities. The same 2022 report found that 35% of LGBTQ+ students said their mental health was not good all or most of the time they were in college, and LGBTQ+ youth continue to experience a significantly higher risk of suicide—with 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considering attempting suicide in the last year.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would help protect students from campus bullying and harassment and address this widespread issue by:
- Requiring all colleges and universities receiving federal aid to prohibit the harassment of enrolled students based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion;
- Requiring schools to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees, upon request.
- Requiring schools to recognize “cyberbullying” as a form of harassment; and
- Creating a grant program to help colleges and universities start or expand programs to prevent harassment and provide counseling services to students who have experienced harassment.
“We are grateful to all those who keep working to improve school environments by making them kinder, safer, and more inclusive than what Tyler experienced while attending an institution of higher education,” said Jane Clementi, Tyler Clementi’s mother and Co-Founder and CEO of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “Special thanks to Congressman Pocan and Senators Murray and Baldwin for reintroducing the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act. We fully support this legislation because we believe all institutions of higher education should have policies to keep all their students safe. After all, every student deserves a positive educational experience free of harassment, bullying or humiliation in an inclusive learning environment where they can study, grow, and thrive regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or whatever else makes them special and precious; and every parent should have peace of mind that their children will be protected and free of harm while in the school’s care.”
“College is hard enough without the added layer of harassment and cyberbullying that so many LGBTQ+ students experience,” said Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. “The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would set the tone that harassment on campus is not going to be tolerated, and it would provide a layer of protection for vulnerable students, including LGBTQ+ students. We thank Senators Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Mark Pocan for introducing this important piece of legislation.”
“Harassment and bullying are far too common on college campuses, which is why the National Women’s Law Center strongly supports this legislation to help ensure that all students feel safe at their college or university,” said Shiwali Patel, Director of Justice for Student Survivors & Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “It is long past time that institutions of higher learning have the resources that they need to root out this awful discrimination, and I am grateful to Senator Murray, Senator Baldwin, and Representative Pocan for their leadership in reintroducing this important bill.”
26 Senators joined Senators Murray and Baldwin in introducing the legislation today, including: Senators Blumenthal, Booker, Brown, Cardin, Casey, Duckworth, Feinstein, Fetterman, Gillibrand, Hassan, Hirono, Kaine, Klobuchar, Luján, Markey, Menendez, Merkley, Padilla, Sanders, Schatz, Shaheen, Smith, Van Hollen, Warren, Whitehouse, and Wyden.
41 Representatives joined Representative Pocan in introducing the legislation today, including: Representatives Bonamici, Brownley, Carbajal, Casten, Castor, Davids, Danny Davis, DelBene, Doggett, Espaillat, Garamendi, Keating, Khanna, Kilmer, Kuster, Summer Lee, McCollum, Meng, Moore, Morelle, Moulton, Nadler, Panetta, Pappas, Peters, Pingree, Quigley, Raskin, Sánchez, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Schiff, Sherrill, Adam Smith, Stansbury, Swalwell, Takano, Tonko, Ritchie Torres, Wasserman Schultz, and Watson Coleman.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2023 is endorsed by: the Tyler Clementi Foundation, the American College Health Association, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and The Trevor Project.