School Bullying and Harassment Laws

Definitions

Unlike other states, Vermont has separate definitions for "bullying" and "harassment."  16 V.S.A. §11(32) defines bullying as:

Any overt act or combination of acts, including an act conducted by electronic means, directed against a student by another student or groups of students and which:
        (A) is repeated over time;
        (B) is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student; and
        (C) (i) occurs during the school day on school property, on a school 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 (ii) does not occur during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity and can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student's rights to access educational programs.
 
16 V.S.A. §11(26) defines harassment as:
 
(A) An incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct, including any incident conducted by electronic means, based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender identity, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or disability that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
 
(B) "Harassment" includes conduct which violates subdivision (A) of this subdivision (26) and constitutes one or more of the following:
 
(i) Sexual harassment, which means conduct that includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when one or both of the following occur:
     (I) Submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student's education.
     (II) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a student is used as a component of the basis for decisions affecting that student.
 
(ii) Racial harassment, which means conduct directed at the characteristics of a student's or a student's family member's actual or perceived race or color, and includes the use of epithets, stereotypes, racial slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual material, and taunts on manner of speech and negative references to racial customs.
 
(iii) Harassment of members of other protected categories, which means conduct directed at the characteristics of a student's or a student's family member's actual or perceived creed, national origin, gender identity, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or disability and includes the use of epithets, stereotypes, slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual material, taunts on manner of speech, and negative references to customs related to any of these protected categories.
 
Please also look at the Continuum of Behaviors to see an explanation of the basic legal distinctions between bullying and harassment.

Vermont Acts and statutes related to bullying and harassment: