Murray bill protects gay college students from harassment

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced a bill Thursday that would require colleges to adopt anti-harassment policies to protect gay students.

“Despite statistics telling us LGBT students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment compared to their heterosexual peers, there is no federal requirement that colleges and universities have policies in place to protect their students,” Murray said on the Senate floor. “No student — whether they’re gay, straight, black, white, Christian, or Muslim — should have to face discrimination and harassment in their pursuit of education.”

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The Tyler Clementi Education Anti-Harassment Act would require universities and colleges to define and prohibit harassment in order to receive any federal funding. 

The bill is named after college student Tyler Clementi committed suicide in 2010 after his roommate filmed a “private encounter” with him and another man in their dorm room. But Murray said she was also inspired by the story of one of her interns, whose HIV status was leaked during a college campaign.

“Why aren’t colleges and universities across our country being proactive?” Murray said. “Students shouldn’t have to take their health and safety into account when they decide which university to attend.”

Murray said her bill would require universities to clearly define no-tolerance harassment policies to protect students. 

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) — the first openly gay senator — is co-sponsoring the bill.

“No student or employee should have to live in fear of being who they are. Our schools should not be, and cannot be a place of discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation or violence,” Baldwin said. “This legislation is an important step forward in not only preventing and addressing harassment on campus, but also making sure our students have the freedom to succeed in safe and healthy communities of learning and achievement.”

Former Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) originally introduced this legislation in 2013.