PHOENIXVILLE, PA — On Monday, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten for a tour of the Phoenixville Area School District, where they heard from students directly about the challenges they face and discussed their work to support students at the federal level, including Casey’s bipartisan, bicameral Safe Schools Improvement Act (S.2410). At Phoenixville High School, Casey and Marten held a listening session with members of HOPE (Humans of Phoenixville Empowered), a student club committed to celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion at school and in the community.
“The Phoenixville High School students we spoke with demonstrated leadership, empathy and problem-solving skills beyond their years. They also shared harrowing experiences of bullying which highlight the need for reform at the federal and local levels,” said Senator Casey. “Children deserve to go to school without fear or intimidation. Bullying and harassment harm far too many young people with serious, negative impacts on their mental and physical health, emotional well-being and academic achievement. My commonsense legislation will take steps to address this problem, ensuring that school districts across the country take proactive steps to combat bullying and protect our children.”
“The HOPE club at Phoenixville Area High School is aptly named: these student leaders give us hope for the future and a roadmap for building learning environments that are accepting and affirming of all student identities,” said Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten. “These students are not only unafraid to have difficult conversations, they are learning and teaching technical skills on how to engage in ways that lead to understanding, action, and humanizes all parties. I am deeply inspired by their actions and bravery.”
In addition to Phoenixville High School, Casey and Marten also toured Barkley Elementary School, where they engaged with school administrators about their work to instill a culture of kindness in the student body. They visited a 5th-grade art class there and spoke with the students.
Casey introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act (S.2410) with the support of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Human Rights Campaign in July 2021. This legislation would require school districts to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA-38), John Katko (R-NY-24) and Mark Takano (D-CA-41).
Read more about the Safe Schools Improvement Act here.
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