The Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) went into effect on July 1, 2012. Its intent is to create more nurturing school environments free of discrimination and harassment. Identified in the legislation are those who are subject to intimidation or abuse based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.
The Dignity Act defines harassment as “creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being;…” Both students and school staff members are covered under the Act, and its protections apply to all school properties. Each local school district must develop policies and conduct staff trainings in conjunction with the Dignity Act requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
From the NYS Education Department’s brochure on the Dignity Act:
Who is protected by The Dignity Act?
All public elementary and secondary school students are protected by The Dignity Act.
What does The Dignity Act prohibit?
The Dignity Act prohibits the harassment and discrimination of students by students and by school personnel.
How does The Dignity Act relate to bullying and hazing?
Bullying and hazing are forms of harassment and discrimination.
What physical spaces are covered by The Dignity Act?
The Dignity Act applies to behavior on school property (including athletic fields, playgrounds, and parking lots) in school buildings, on a school bus/vehicle, as well as at school-sponsored events or activities.
How does The Dignity Act relate to the school’s Code of Conduct?
The Code of Conduct must be amended to reflect the prohibition of discrimination and harassment of students by students or staff — in age appropriate plain language.