Two different bills expand on growing federal initiatives to address student safety
Washington - GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, praises the introduction today of two bills in the Senate and House that address the well-being of youth across the country.
"GLSEN applauds this week's initiatives by the federal government to address a public health crisis affecting youth across the nation. These bills are positive steps forward for ending harassment and discrimination, and keeping classrooms from kindergarten to the college campus safe and focused on learning," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said.
Introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) in the House and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in the Senate, the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) would make discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity against the law. SNDA seeks to prevent the exclusion of students from full participation in school sanctioned events, and includes an exemption for religious schools. SNDA would be a monumental step toward giving LGBT students, and those perceived to be LGBT, the same equal access to educational opportunities as every other student. SNDA ended the last Congress with 126 and 31 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and Senate, respectively.
"GLSEN commends Representative Jared Polis and Senator Al Franken for sending a clear message to schools across the country that LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT have the same rights and should be treated with the same dignity and respect as every other child," said Byard. "Discrimination against students based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation is a pervasive problem and negatively affects the performance of many students."
Also today, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which would require higher education institutions receiving federal student aid to develop bullying policies that draw specific attention to harassment fueled by bias against race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics. The Tyler Clementi Act also instructs institutions to address cyber-bullying.
These bills add to growing federal leadership to address the safety and well-being of all youth. The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), which would require bullying policies similar to those in the Tyler Clementi Act for K-12 schools, was introduced in the Senate this week with bipartisan support.
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.