Dignity for All Students Act
DASA - DIGNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS ACT
The Dignity Act was signed into law on September 13, 2010 and took effect on July 1, 2012.
This legislation amended State Education Law by creating a new Article 2 – Dignity for All Students. The Dignity Act also amended Section 801-a of New York State Education Law regarding instruction in civility, citizenship, and character education by expanding the concepts of tolerance, respect for others and dignity to include: an awareness and sensitivity in the relations of people, including but not limited to, different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, gender identity, and sexes. The Dignity Act further amended Section 2801 of the Education Law by requiring Boards of Education to include language addressing The Dignity Act in their codes of conduct.
Additionally, under the Dignity Act, schools will be responsible for collecting and reporting data regarding material incidents of discrimination and harassment.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE ACT FOR?
The Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) was established with the broad legislative intent to provide a school environment free of discrimination and harassment.
WHO IS PROTECTED UNDER THIS LEGISLATION?
Identified in the legislation are those who are subjected 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.
HOW DOES THE DIGNITY ACT DEFINE "HARASSMENT?"
DASA DEFINITIONSHarassment is defined 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.”
- Race: This term is now considered by many cultural anthropologists and sociologists to be more of a social or mental construct than an objective biological fact. In common usage, the word appears to be used to describe geographically local or global human population groups distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.” For purposes of enumeration the U.S. Census Bureau uses terms such as: “White/Caucasian”, “Black/African American/African-descent, “Asian”, “Bi-racial”, “Hispanics/Latinos etc. to describe and classify the inhabitants of the United States.
- Color: In this usage, the term refers to the apparent pigmentation of the skin, especially as an indication or possible indication of their race. [Source: Oxford Dictionary]
- Weight: Aside from its obvious meaning in the physical sciences, in weight discrimination legislation from a variety of sources, the word is used in reference to a person’s “size” or sometimes interchangeably with a person’s size. Interestingly, the District of Columbia has a law that prohibits discrimination based on “personal appearance”.
- National Origin: A person’s country of birth or their ancestor’s country of birth. [Source: Wisconsin Civil Rights publication]
- Ethnic Group: A group of people who identify with each other through a common heritage including language, culture, and often a shared or common religion and or ideology that stresses ancestry. Some ethnic groups may emphasize marrying within the group or “endogamy”.
- Religion: A person or group’s religion is the specific fundamental beliefs and practices generally agreed to by large numbers of the group…a body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.
- Religious Practice: This term includes practices and observances such as attending worship services, wearing religious garb or symbols, praying at prescribed times, displaying religious objects, adhering to certain dietary rules, refraining from certain activities, proselytizing etc. The motivation for the practice is more significant than the nature of the activity in this definition. One individual may eat a certain diet for religious reasons while another may eat the exact same identical diet for secular (health/environmental) reasons… [Source: EEOC Govt. policy]
- Sex: The biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. (MALE and FEMALE denote “sex”. Source: World Health Organization
- Gender: The socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. (MASCULINE and FEMININE denote “gender”) [Source: World Health Organization]
- Sexual orientation: The sex to which a person is sexually attracted. Someone attracted primarily or exclusively to members of the opposite sex is characterized as straight or heterosexual. Someone attracted primarily or exclusively to members of the same sex is characterized as homosexual. A person with a strong or viable attraction to both genders is characterized as bisexual or pansexual. [Source: About.com.Civil Liberties]
- Disability: Any restriction or lack (due to any impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. [Source: W.H.O]