Are there any state laws that protect me from harassment, hazing, and bullying at school?
Yes. It is the policy of the state of Vermont that all Vermont educational institutions provide “safe, orderly, civil and positive learning environments. Harassment, hazing and bullying have no place and will not be tolerated in Vermont schools” (16 V.S.A § 570).
Bullying is defined as an act (including an electronic one) directed against a student by another student or group of students that:
- is repeated over time;
- is intended to ridicule, humiliate or intimidate; and
- occurs during the school day on school property, on a bus or at a school-sponsored activity or before or after the school day on a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity; OR occurs at any other time and can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with a student’s right to access educational programs (16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(32)).
Harassment is defined as verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct (including by electronic means) motivated by a student’s or student’s family member’s actual or perceived characteristic such as sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability that is intended to:
- objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with educational performance or access to school resources; or
- creating an objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive environment (16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(26)(A)).
Hazing is defined as any act against a student who is pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization that is affiliated with an educational institution and that is intended to have the effect of (or be reasonably expected to have the effect of) humiliating, intimidating or demeaning the student or endangering the physical or mental health of the student (16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(30)(A)).