The New Mexico legislature recently passed Senate Bill 288, also known as the Safe Schools for All Students Act. This anti-bullying legislation requires districts to implement a variety of measures to address bullying in schools. Notably, the bill offers explicit protection to LGBTQ students by requiring districts to address bullying based on gender identity and sexual orientation. GLSEN, a leading organization addressing safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, issued a statement praising the passage of the bill. According to GLSEN, New Mexico is the nineteenth state, along with Washington DC, to have comprehensive anti-bullying legislation that is inclusive of LGBTQ youth.
The bill requires districts to adopt policies to prevent bullying, including cyberbullying and bullying taking place at school-sponsored events or on transportation. These policies must include statements prohibiting both bullying and retaliation against those who report bullying incidents. The policies must also include consequences for bullying offenses, and these consequences must be flexible enough to apply on a case-by-case basis.
The provisions of the bill are extensive. While this is a concrete step towards providing safe, inclusive schools for LGBTQ youth, it remains to be seen whether or not the bill contains effective mechanisms to ensure enforcement. The bill goes into effect on July 1, 2019, and school districts are required to implement these changes by January 1, 2020.