Friday, June 7, 2013

Student Non-Discrimination Act Reintroduced in Senate

Back in 2010, U.S. Sen. Al Franken first introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) which protects students who are—or are perceived to be—lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) from harassment, discrimination, and violence at school. Sen. Franken's bill extends to LGBT students the same rights to protection from discrimination as other kids have based on their gender, religion, disability, race, or national origin. 

In 2011 PFLAGers from all over the country met in Washington DC to kick off the PFLAG National Convention with a Lobby Day focused specifically on urging legislators to support this important bill.  It was an exciting day, kicked off with speeches by Sen. Franken, as well as the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Col) speaking to PFLAGers about the significance of the legislation, and the need for PFLAGers to share their stories as they lobbied.

Within several weeks of the Lobby Day, numerous legislators stated they would either support, or co-sponsor SNDA.

Earlier this week, Sen. Franken reintroduced SNDA in the Senate. Earlier this year, SNDA was reintroduced in the House by Rep Polis and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a former certified teacher and school principal.

SNDA has 30 original cosponsors on the Senate side, and has also been added to the Strengthening All Schools Act to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, which was also introduced today.

According to GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey, nearly eight in 10 LGBT students have been bullied. The harassment LGBT youth experience in school deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, underperforming academically, and eventually dropping out. It can also have a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health. 

SNDA would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would prohibit schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior. It would also provide meaningful and effective remedies for discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Read more about Sen. Franken’s legislation and the organizations endorsing the bill here.

And learn more about PFLAG's Safe Schools work by visiting www.pflag.org/safeschools

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