Today HRC applauds the reintroduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), S 403, in the Senate by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).
SSIA would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The SSIA would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
Additionally, the SSIA would require the Department of Education to provide Congress with a report on the state reported data, along with other specified data, every two years.
According to a 2012 Survey of LGBT Youth by HRC, LGBT youth experience bullying at school more frequently than their non-LGBT peers. In fact, LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience verbal harassment, exclusion and physical attack at school as their non-LGBT peers.
Among LGBT youth, 51 percent have been verbally harassed at school, compared to 25 percent among non-LGBT students; 48 percent say they are often excluded by their peers because they are different, compared to 26 percent among non-LGBT students; and 17 percent report they have been physically attacked at school, compared to 10 percent among non-LGBT students.
LGBT youth also identify bullying as a primary problem in their lives. They identified family rejection (26 percent), school/bullying problems (21 percent) and fear of being out or open (18 percent) as the top three problems they face. In comparison, non-LGBT youth identified classes/exams/grades (25 percent), college/career (14 percent) and financial pressures (11 percent) as the top three problems they face. Clearly, LGBT youth spend time worrying about bullying and rejection, while their non-LGBT peers are able to focus on grades, career choices and the future.
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) is expected to introduce the House version of the SSIA soon.