NEW YORK - GLSEN applauds today's introduction of the Student Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate by Senator Al Franken and 22 cosponsors as an important step toward ensuring that all students are valued and respected and can learn in an environment free from harassment and discrimination.
The Senate version is a companion bill to H.R. 4530, introduced by Rep. Jared Polis in the House early this year, which would prohibit discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Rep. Polis's bill currently has the support of over 100 representatives.
"GLSEN thanks Senator Franken and SNDA's 22 Senate cosponsors for making a commitment to ensuring that LGBT students can learn without the fear of being discriminated against simply for who they are," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "SNDA will send a clear message to schools that they must address the hostile environment many LGBT students face in schools."
Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experience harassment at school because of their sexual orientation, and 60.8% feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey.
The harassment clearly affects students' ability to learn. A third of LGBT students (32.7%) missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe, five times higher than a national sample of all students.
"It’s time that we extend the protections of our nations' civil right laws to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students across the country," Franken said. "No student should be subjected to the ridicule and physical violence that LGBT students so often experience in school. It's time we demanded equal treatment for all of our children under the law."
SNDA is endorsed by more than 25 LGBT, education, civil rights, medical and social justice organizations including: GLSEN, American Civil Liberties Union, American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association, Interface Alliance, NAACP, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Council of La Raza, and School Social Work Association of America.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.