The New York State Dignity for All Students Act seeks to provide the state’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
The Dignity Act was signed into law on Sept. 13, 2010. This legislation amended State Education Law by creating a new Article Two – “Dignity For All Students.” The Dignity Act became effective on July 1, 2012.
The Dignity Act states that no student shall be subjected to harassment or discrimination by employees or students on school property or at a school function based on their actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation or gender. The Dignity Act amended Section 801-A of New York State Education Law regarding character education by expanding the concepts of tolerance, respected for others and dignity.
This law originally earned the nickname of “DASA”, but the New York State Education Department has changed the Dignity Act’s nickname to “DACT.”
Inclusive in the DACT guidelines is the topic of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as: using the Internet, cell phones or other electronic devices to send or post text or images intended to intimidate, hurt or embarrass another person. A movie to view that epitomizes this issue is “Easy A.”
Much of cyberbullying is initiated out of school, via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or texting.
The DACT arose out of legislative concern, born out of media coverage of egregious cases, to prevent bullying in schools. While the act does not use the word “bullying,” that is its focus.
This act is designed to prevent and prohibit discriminating and harassing conduct on school property and at school functions. It also establishes additional “protected classes” of students.