Dignity for ALL Students Act
Carol Bush
Professional Development Specialist
Center for School Improvement and Professional Development
Orleans/Niagara BOCES
Tyler Clementi: Gay Rutgers University freshman
who committed suicide after his roommate
streamed live video of a sexual encounter
between Tyler and another man.
Jayme Rodemeyer: 14 yr old
student from Williamsville, NY.
Struggled with his sexuality. Called
“Faggot, fag” by other students in
the hallways. Committed suicide.
Phoebe Prince: 15 year old South Hadley Middle
School student who moved from Ireland. Called
“Irish slut, Irish whore” by classmates. Also was
subjected to sexual harassment. Committed suicide.
What is Bullying?
Bullying has been described
as unwanted, aggressive
behavior that involves a real
or perceived power
imbalance. The behavior is
repeated, or has the potential
to be repeated, over time.
United States Department of Education
Types of Bullying…
• Physical bullying
• Verbal bullying
• Social bullying
• Microaggressions
What is cyberbullying?
• Cyberbullying is defined as
harassment or bullying that
occurs through any form of
electronic communication
(Education Law §11[8]).
• This includes incidents occurring
off school property that create or
would forseeably create a risk of
substantial disruption within the
school environment
How is cyberbullying different?
• Sent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
• Shared to a very wide audience
• Sent anonymously
What is discrimination?
The denial of equal treatment,
admission and/or access to
programs, facilities and services
based on the person's actual or
perceived race, color, weight,
national origin, ethnic group,
religion, religious practice,
disability, sexual orientation,
gender (including gender identity),
or sex.
What is harassment?
Creating a hostile environment by…
Conduct, verbal threats,
intimidation or abuse that
reasonably causes or would
reasonably be expected to
cause a student to fear for their
physical safety…OR
Conduct, verbal threats,
intimidation or abuse based on a
person’s actual or perceived race,
color, weight, national origin,
ethnic group, religion, religious
practice, disability, sexual
orientation, gender or sex.
What is the Dignity Act?
No student shall be
subjected to
discrimination, or
bullying by employees
or students
No STUDENT shall be subjected to
discrimination based on their:
– actual or perceived race
– color
– weight
– national origin
– ethnic group
– religion
– religious practice
– disability
– sexual orientation
– gender identity, or
– sex
What does this mean for public school
districts, BOCES, and charter schools?
• Policies and procedures
– DASA Coordinator
– Process for reporting incidents
– Update code of conduct
• Guidelines for responding
• Expanding students’ education
• Expanding teachers’ training and certification requirements
What does this mean for me as a
classroom teacher?
• Know what to look for…
– Characteristics of bullies and victims
– Early warning signs
– Effects of bullying on bullies and victims
• Prevention and Intervention
– Creating a positive, inclusive learning environment
– Education for students and teachers
– Reporting procedures
– Discipline approaches
• Communicating with families and the community
Characteristics of a Positive
Learning Environment
• What does a positive learning environment look like?
• What does it sound like?
• How does it feel when you’re in that type of environment?
Characteristics of a Positive
Learning Environment
• Caring, firm but fair attitude.
• Students know what to expect
from you.
• Classroom procedural rules.
• High expectations for students.
• Students are given
responsibilities in the
• Students have potential for
• Classroom climate of
• Positive group identity.
• Students accept diversity.
• Consistent follow-up and
enforcement of the rules.
• Preparedness and organization.
• With-it-ness “having eyes in the
back of your head”.
• Your focus in the classroom
(switching from group to
individual ).
• Variety in teaching styles
• Appropriate pacing and smooth
• Cooperation with parents.
Environmental Aspects to Consider
• Physical Environment
– Safe, clean, and comfortable
– Inviting (seating arrangements, wall posters, color, positive quotes
• Instructional Environment
– High academic expectations with strong student supports
– Well managed classrooms
• Emotional Safety
– Sense of belonging
– Safe to take risks and express emotions
Steps you can take…
Get to know students
Establish respect as an expectation
Collaboratively identify classroom norms
Collaboratively identify behavior consequences
Reinforce positive behavior
Outlets for expression
Class meetings
Class Meetings at the Elementary Level
• Bruised but Beautiful Apple
• My Wrinkled Heart
• Tell me about yourself!
Benefits of a Positive
Learning Environment
• Creates a climate of safety, control, and a sense of community
within the classroom
• Better communication exists within the school community
• Positive learning environments improve academic
achievement in the following ways…
– Increased classroom participation
– Increased attendance rates/decreased school avoidance
– Higher standardized test scores and overall GPAs
– Decreased drop-out rates
Creating an Inclusive Environment
• Understand the needs of targeted populations
• Recognize the important role diversity and multiculturalism
play in education
Understanding Targeted Populations
• Students with Disabilities
– Walk a mile in their shoes
– What would it be like to have autism?
• Immigrants
– What are the cultural barriers?
– Similarities and differences?
– What kind of harassment is most common? Verbal? Cyberbullying?
– Is it possible that these comments are being made unintentionally?
• Students in foster care or have incarcerated parents
– What would it be like to grow up without your parent(s)? Brothers and
– What if students are not comfortable in their new home?
Importance of Diversity in Education
• Prepare for ever-changing world
• Promote a culture of acceptance
• Creates curiosity and propels personal growth
Websites of Interest
Carol Bush
Professional Development Specialist
Center for School Improvement and Professional Development
Orleans/Niagara BOCES
716-731-6800 x3755