Friday, September 16, 2011

Senator Franken Fights Discrimination

On Wednesday Senator Al Franken of Minnesota said that there must be an “explicit ban” on discrimination against LGBT students.  In Minnesota there is a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District for alleged harassment of six students for sexual orientation and gender nonconformity.  In Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on civil rights Senator Franken cited the accusations of bullying in his own state as evidence that existing laws (including the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act) do not offer enough protections for LGBT students.  He said “This Congress has said we need to protect LGBT Americans in the same way we protect other vulnerable groups, doesn’t it follow that we should protect LGBT students from bullying to the same extent that we protect other groups?”

Senator Franken is the sponsor of the Senate’s version of the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011, a bill that would “prohibit public school students from being excluded from participating in, or subject to discrimination under, any federally-assisted educational program on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or that of their associates.”  This is much needed legislation to advance the safety of our LGBT students.  Families suffer when their children are the subject of sexual orientation and gender nonconformity-related harassment, and passage of this bill could mean real and tangible improvement in our schools.

Take Action – Call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act.  If you live in Minnesota call Senator Franken to thank him for his leadership in building safer schools for our LGBT students.  Visit to learn who your members of Congress are and to find their contact information.

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