Rep. Dan Truitt (R-156th Dist.) introduced the Pennsylvania Safe Schools Act Jan. 23 with 62 cosponsors, compared to 31 on the original bill. The bill has overwhelming bipartisan support, with 34 Republican signatories.
The measure was drafted and spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition, which represents LGBT and ally students across the state.
PSEC executive director Jason Landau Goodman said “youth across the state have consistently met with representatives and been in Harrisburg as often as possible to support this critical legislation to protect all students.”
The legislation would require all school districts in the state to develop comprehensive anti-bullying policies that include procedures for reporting bullying and training for school employees.
The bill’s definition of bullying includes conduct motivated by a victim’s perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as other factors such as race, color and religion. It includes actions that threaten a student’s person or property, have a negative impact on the individual’s physical or mental health or interfere with a student’s ability to participate in school services, activities or privileges. It also extends the definition to cyberbullying.
The measure mandates the Department of Education create an online portal to allow school officials to report incidents, and then provide periodic reports on each school’s incidents.
The bill was referred to the Education Committee, on which Truitt sits. Cosponsor Rep. James Roebuck (D-188th Dist.) is the minority chair of the committee.
The legislation was first introduced in the fall and died in committee.