WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) joined a group of colleagues in re-introducing the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2021, legislation to address bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying, at colleges and universities around the country. The lawmakers introduced the bill on 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 due to his sexual orientation.

The bill would require colleges and universities to establish policies to prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion, and require schools to recognize “cyberbullying” as a form of harassment.

“Students should feel safe and protected while receiving an education at America’s colleges and universities,” said Sen. Menendez. “Unfortunately, harassment and bullying is still prevalent and we must ensure our academic institutions are proactive in putting an end to this horror.”


“Eleven years after Tyler Clementi’s tragic death, LGBTQ and marginalized students in colleges and universities across our nation often still endure discrimination and hate,” said Sen. Booker. “To properly honor Tyler’s memory, I am proud to cosponsor this legislation in his name that will require and incentivize higher education institutions to develop policies that prohibit harassment, while also ensuring that cyberbullying incidents are appropriately addressed. I urge my colleagues to pass this critical bill that will help protect the safety, health, and well-being of students across our nation.”

 

Today, bullying and harassment are still widespread in higher education—and LGBTQIA+ students are nearly twice as likely to experience it as their non-LGBTQIA+ peers. The consequences can be severe for students’ mental health, and the pandemic compounded existing mental health challenges. In fact, throughout the pandemic, 65% of LGBTQIA+ college students faced moderate or severe mental health challenges—and 22% felt that they had no social or emotional support system.

 

The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2021 would help address campus bullying and harassment and keep students safe 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 school 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 believe all institutions of higher education should have policies to keep all their students safe. Because every student deserves a positive educational experience in a safe environment free of harassment, bullying or humiliation, where they can learn, study and thrive regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity 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,"  said Jane Clementi, CEO and Co-Founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Tyler’s mother.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also cosponsored the legislation.

The bill has been endorsed by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), American Association of University Women (AAUW), American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), and the Trevor Project.

A copy of the bill text can be found here