Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rep. Jared Polis Introduces Student Anti-Discrimination Bill

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), a leading proponent of equality in education, has introduced historic legislation—H. R. 4350, the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA)—that would protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students by establishing a comprehensive Federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and provide victims with meaningful and effective remedies. Thus far, SNDA has 60 original co-sponsors.

“Every day innocent students fall victim to relentless harassment and discrimination from teachers, staff, and fellow students based on their sexual orientation,” said Polis. “These actions not only hurt our students and our schools but, left unchecked, can also lead to life-threatening violence. Like Title VI for minorities in the 60s and Title IX for women in the 70s, my legislation puts LGBT students on an equal footing with their peers, so they can attend school and get a quality education, free from fear.”

While Federal civil rights statutes expressly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, they do not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity and, as a result, LGBT students and parents have often had limited legal recourse for this kind of discrimination. By establishing a comprehensive Federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and empowering victims with meaningful and effective remedies (loss of federal funding and legal cause of action for victims) for discrimination, SNDA represents an enormous step toward safe public schools for all kids, regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.

More information on SNDA is available by clicking here.

“Hatred has no place in the classroom,” said Polis. “Every student has the right to an education free from harassment and violence. This bill will protect the individual freedoms of our students and enshrine the values of equality and opportunity in our classrooms.”

Polis, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee and Co-Chairman of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, is a former chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education and has founded and served as the superintendent of charter schools serving at-risk student populations.

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