Wednesday, July 8, 2009

PFLAG Provides Testimony to Congress on Safe Schools and Domestic Partnerships

PFLAG National, on behalf of its more than 200,000 members and supporters nationwide, provided written testimony to the U.S. Congress today in two separate hearings on providing safe schools for all children and providing more equal benefits for the same-sex partners of federal employees.

For the hearing entitled Strengthening School Safety through Prevention of Bullying Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG National submitted the following testimony in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2009 (HR 2262):

“Physical appearance, sexual orientation (actual or perceived), and gender expression are the most common reasons for bullying and harassment in our nation’s schools. As a minority population in schools across the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth commonly experience high rates of discrimination and harassment, yet are often not protected under school policy. And even though most parents favor teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, most sexuality education programs do not cover this topic and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs merely further negative sentiment toward these students. As a result, LGBT youth are more vulnerable to a variety of harmful behaviors, including skipping school and attempting suicide, than their heterosexual peers."

For the hearing entitled The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, Huckaby, on behalf of PFLAG National wrote the following in support of the bill of the same name bill (H.R. 2517) which would be a step in equalizing the benefits of same-sex partners of federal employees to put them closer to par with their straight married colleagues:

"Although the federal government - the nation’s largest civilian employer - offers attractive family benefits to employees with different-sex spouses, it does not offer the same benefits to lesbian, gay and bisexual workers with same-sex partners. As a result, these employees do not receive equal pay for their equal contributions. By offering full benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees, this bill will bring employment practices in the federal government in line with those of America’s largest and most successful corporations… By offering domestic partnership benefits, the federal government would not only improve the quality of its workforce, but also demonstrate its commitment to fairness and equality for all Americans."

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