The U.S. Department of Education recently issued updated guidance to educators on dealing with bullying in schools. The guidance, issued in the form of a letter to schools, colleges, and universities from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, clarifies when bulling may violate federal anti-discrimination laws.
The guidance was issued after two high-profile student suicides, which police say were the result of bullying. While this latest guidance makes clear that current laws enforced by USDE do not protect against harassment based on religion or sexual orientation, they do include protection against harassment of members of religious groups based on shared ethnic characteristics, as well as gender and sexual harassment of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals.
The White House and USDE also announced that they will take additional steps to address bullying and harassment in schools.
Early next year, the White House will host a conference to raise awareness and equip young people, parents, educators, coaches, and other community leaders with tools to prevent bullying and harassment.
USDE also plans to hold technical assistance workshops around the country in early 2011 to help educators better understand their obligations and the resources available to address harassment and bullying on school and college campuses.