HRC Blog

Sen. Franken Introduces Student Non-Discrimination Act in Senate

Today Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., along with 22 co-sponsors, introduced the Senate version of the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2010 (SNDA), which would prohibit discrimination against any public school student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  In addition, SNDA prevents discrimination against students because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of a person with whom that student associates or has associated.  Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., introduced a nearly identical version of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530) in January 2010. Said HRC President Joe Solmonese:

"Every child deserves an equal education free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. Unfortunately, LGBT students have historically been alienated, harassed, and bullied in their schools, with little or no intervention from school personnel.  Far too many of these students have underperformed or dropped out in response to the lack of safety and support. No student should feel scared when walking into their school and this legislation would require immediate and appropriate action to stop the discrimination that our youth have endured for far too long."

Said Sen. Franken:

“It’s time that we extend the protections of our nations’ civil right laws to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students across the country. No student should be subjected to the ridicule and physical violence that LGBT students so often experience in school.  It’s time we demanded equal treatment for all of our children under the law.”

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity contributes to high dropout rates, absenteeism, adverse health consequences and academic underachievement among LGBT youth. When left unchecked, such discrimination can lead, and has led to, life-threatening violence and suicide. Federal statutory and/or constitutional protections expressly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex and disability, but do not expressly address sexual orientation or gender identity.  As a result, students and parents have limited legal recourse to redress for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. SNDA is closely modeled after title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and provides legal recourse to redress such discrimination. SNDA is has broad support from over 22 civil rights and education organizations, including: The American Association of University Women, American Federation of Teachers, American Civil Liberties Union, American Counseling Association, Family Equality Council, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, NAACP, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Council of La Raza, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, National Women's Law Center, SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), School Social Work Association of America, and Transgender Law Center.

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