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GLSEN on MS Gov. Signing HB 1523
Media Relations Manager
GLSEN Condemns Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant for Signing HB 1523
NEW YORK (April 5, 2016) – GLSEN’s Director of Public Policy, Nathan Smith, condemned Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant for signing HB 1523, the first law in the nation that explicitly allows businesses and individuals to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people based on religious beliefs.
“GLSEN is appalled that Gov. Bryant has chosen to put Mississippi students in potentially dangerous situations by signing the discriminatory HB 1523. The implications of this law are far-reaching, impacting not only adults, but some of the state’s most vulnerable students. Under the new law, counselors and other school providers will be able to deny LGBT students potentially life-saving school-based supports with the state’s endorsement.
“The bill also explicitly allows schools to discriminate against transgender students by requiring them to use restrooms or wear clothes that do not align with their gender identity. Gov. Bryant and the Mississippi state legislature have made clear that the harassment and discrimination that LGBT youth regularly face in school is acceptable. This bill will no doubt ensure that Mississippi students continue to be denied access to high-quality schools in which they can succeed.”
The latest edition of GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey found 74 percent of LGBT students were verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55 percent because of their gender expression. LGBT students who experienced discrimination and bullying and harassment at school were more than three times as likely to have missed school in the past month as those who did not, had lower GPAs than their peers, and had lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression.
GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. 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.