Post submitted by Paul Guequierre, HRC Deputy Communications Director

Today, Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) in the U.S. House of Representatives.  SNDA 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. 

HRC’s recent survey of LGBT youth reinforces the need to pass SNDA: Among youth who are not out at school, the most frequent obstacle they describe is that teachers or classmates will treat them differently or judge them.  Sixty-four percent of LGBT teens (compared to just 47% of non-LGBT teens) report that they never participate in afterschool or other recreational activities out of fear of discrimination. Youth who are out to their immediate family or at school report higher levels of happiness, optimism, acceptance and support.   

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. 

Today 82 organizations, including HRC, sent a letter to Members of Congress, requesting they support SNDA. 

HRC thanks Reps. Polis and Ros-Lehtinen for their continued support of LGBT youth.  We call on Congress to pass this important bill. 

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