On July 1, the Dignity for All Students Act, or DASA, becomes law.
Signed into law by then-Gov. David Paterson, the act prohibits harassment and discrimination against students by other students or school employees. Harassment is defined as creating a hostile environment with words or acts.
DASA prohibits discrimination based on race, color, weight, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability sexual orientation, or gender.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says DASA will be especially important for LGBT kids. She says that LGBT kids or those perceived to be LBGT are frequent targets and that the legislation will make an enormous difference in those children's lives.
Critics note each school must appoint at least one dignity act coordinator to monitor every school bullying incident. But no money has been allocated for the position. It also carries no criminal penalties.
Still, lawyers who handle bullying cases say it will decrease bullying dramatically while increasing the number of lawsuits against school districts.
One aspect of bullying not yet in the new law is so-called cyberbullying on the Internet. But at the request of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the bill sponsor, Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, has added a cyberbullying amendment to the DASA law.
Quinn believes the cyberbullying amendment will pass this week before DASA takes effect.