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GLSEN on Every Student Succeeds Act
Media Relations Manager
GLSEN Issues Statement on Every Student Succeeds Act
NEW YORK (December 9, 2015) – GLSEN Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, issued a statement regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Congress' bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that will be signed by President Obama on December 10.
“GLSEN applauds the bipartisan approach taken by Congress in developing the Every Student Succeeds Act, but we are concerned about the absence of specific protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, as well as the reduction of authority of the U.S. Department of Education.
“We are pleased to see that ESSA would increase accountability for the educational experiences of students of color, students with disabilities and English-language learners; require states and districts to report school-level data on incidences of bullying and harassment; require states to outline plans to improve conditions for learning as a condition of receiving federal funds; and allow schools to use federal funds for bullying prevention programs. We thank Sens. Murray, Casey and Franken for their tireless leadership in pushing for safe schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“That said, we are concerned that the final bill does not explicitly include protections for LGBT students, nor does it include any elements of the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Nondiscrimination Act, effective protections for LGBT students that would result in reduced victimization, fewer days of missed school and higher grade point averages. Equally concerning is that ESSA would significantly limit the authority of the U.S. Department of Education, which has led the way in enforcing essential civil rights protections for all students.
“In the years since the last ESEA reauthorization, the education world has awoken to the significant barriers faced by LGBT students from all communities in simply trying to get an education and live fulfilling lives. We remain committed to working with Congress, the Department of Education, states and districts to ensure that all students, including LGBT youth, have access to schools where they are safe, affirmed and valued.”
The latest edition of GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey recently found that while school climate has improved somewhat since 1999, schools nationwide remain hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students and that a hostile school climate affects students’ academic success and mental health. Seventy-four percent of LGBT students were verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55 percent because of their gender expression. As a result of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, 30 percent missed at least one day of school in the past month.
GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Celebrating its 25th year, 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.