The U.S. Department of Education recently issued a letter to 15,000 public schools and 5,000 colleges telling them it is their responsibility to protect students from bullying and harassment. The letter said it was based on the Title IX law, which was passed in the 1970s in order to assure that women could not be denied access to educational programs funded with federal dollars. The Obama Administration is trying to expand Title IX by saying it includes a ban on so-called "gender stereotyping." The letter admitted that this "is certainly the first time the Education Department has made it clear that the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community is protected by Title IX if they are bullied or harassed for not conforming to stereotypical gender roles."
The National School Boards Association does not agree with this letter and has warned that the Department of Education letter will "invite misguided litigation" and create an "adversarial climate that distracts schools from their educational mission." The National School Board's letter said that the new regulation "significantly expands" the liability for schools, doesn't recognize students' First Amendment rights of free speech, and ignores constitutional limitations on schools' ability to punish students for exercising their free-speech rights.
A spokesman for the National School Safety and Security Services is also very critical of the Education Department's letter, saying that this attempt to exercise local control over school discipline issues is "unprecedented, unnecessary and counterproductive." This is another example of the Obama Administration trying to have the bureaucracy do what Congress will not do. Currently, 44 state legislatures have passed anti-bullying statutes, and that ought to be a satisfactory way to deal with this problem.
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