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GLSEN on the Equality Act
GLSEN Statement on the Introduction of the Equality Act
NEW YORK (July 23, 2015) – GLSEN Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, issued the following statement on the introduction of the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, public education, employment, housing, federal funding, jury service, legal protections and credit. The act was introduced today by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in the Senate and by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) in the House of Representatives.
“Discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity is commonplace in America,” said Dr. Byard. “It occurs every day in our schools, in the workplace, when people apply for housing, when seeking medical treatment and in simple day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted. Our most recent National School Climate Survey revealed that 56 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth experienced discriminatory school policies and practices. While schools must improve their policies, a comprehensive solution based in civil rights protections is needed.”
“GLSEN strongly supports the Equality Act as that solution. This legislation will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a significant step in providing near complete nondiscrimination protection for LGBT people in the United States, including students and educators in our nation’s schools. We thank and commend Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) for their leadership in sponsoring the Equality Act, and stand with our partner organizations in supporting this vital legislation.”
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 discrimination affects students’ academic success and mental health. LGBT students who experienced discrimination 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. 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.